Community Spirit Shines Through Myriad Challenges

Posted On Wednesday June 03, 2020

By Kathleen Karpuk, Chair Board of Education

June 3, 2020

The word “unprecedented” has been thrown around a lot lately, but all aspects of the word describe this past school year perfectly.

This has been a year of chaos and constant challenge and it looks like it could continue into the fall. Yet through it all, the Kamloops-Thompson community has shown itself to be courageous, kind and generous

It started with the fire at Parkcrest elementary last September.

Two school families were displaced, a treasured school building disappeared and the impact rippled through our system.

But within days, students were back in class, TREC students relocated to the United Way and NorKam secondary and, by December, brought back together at Happyvale elementary.

The community responded with overwhelming generosity to our students and our staff, providing food, space and much-needed replacement supplies.

In February, we began to hear rumblings about the pandemic. In March, school buildings closed and again our entire system had a reset.

Teachers scrambled to connect with students through online learning and students learned to cope with not seeing friends.

It’s been a challenging time — teachers having to completely adapt to a new way of teaching and connecting and worried about students that don’t have the access to technology that many of us take for granted.

Students have struggled with learning new concepts without as much support, using technology in unfamiliar ways and missing the peer contact and reassurance from their friends.

Parents have risen to the challenge of trying to help children learn concepts that they themselves don’t understand, often stepping in to provide tech support as they have balanced their own stay-at-home workloads, along with the many other pressures that have occurred as a result of the pandemic.

Through it all, our community has again shown its true colours.

The Caremongering group came together to support those who needed help. The COVID Meal Train is making sure food is available to those who needed it.

There are hearts in the windows of houses, inspirational messages scribbled in chalk on the sidewalks and parades of cars celebrating birthdays, students and teachers.

There are beautifully painted rocks to gladden someone’s day and smiles and nods as people practise physical distancing in the parks.

As the provincial school system moves back to some in-class instruction, we know our community will again shine.

Conversations with our employee groups have been ongoing to ensure that when students and staff return this week, things will be done right to keep everyone safe.

This includes increased cleaning, hiring more custodial staff and taking our time to make good decisions based on science and the expert knowledge of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

We know not everyone is able or comfortable returning to school and that’s OK.

Let’s continue to be gentle with our expectations of each other, patient when things don’t go as expected and generous in spirit.

In the words of Dr. Henry “be kind, be calm and be safe.”

This column appeared in Kamloops This Week: View from SD73 on June 3, 2020.

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