Message from the Director of the Public Schools Branch

April 15, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students;

Thank you for your efforts in supporting learning at your home right now. It is great to see the on-line images of students working on their studies, some with the help from parents, at kitchen tables across the Island. Many parents and students have placed a lot of pressure on themselves because they have high expectations for being successful. We recognize these efforts are not without their challenges or stress. These challenges are recognized by the Public Schools Branch staff and the well-being of our students and parents is very important. While we all struggle to balance current pressures and manage new realities, sometimes it helps to know that others share our experiences and understand how we are feeling.

Emotional Well-Being

We are all hearing a lot about the importance of connection right now. We have taken for granted some of the ways we socialize and connect through time together in schools and at work that are presently no longer possible. We are social beings and during this time, even though we are physically distant, we need to find ways to be emotionally close. It is important to keep socially and emotionally connected. When we feel more connected to family, friends, and our work, we have less emotional distress. We all do better when we are connected.

I would like to share with you, two short articles that were recently shared with me on the importance of connection: “COVID-19: Moving Forward with a Caring Approach” by J. Kevin Cameron http://nactatr.com/covid19.html , and “The Importance of Connection” by Dr. Jane Nelson https://www.positivediscipline.com/articles/importance-connection. I hope you find the insights helpful.

Building in moments of connection do not need to be for long periods of time. Even a three-minute connection with someone can be helpful (e.g. texts, emails, phone call, or social networking). Connecting with those who model calmness can create that feeling in ourselves. Try connecting visually with others when able (e.g., video through social networking), as hearing and seeing the person strengthens the level of connection. This type of connection is especially important for individuals living alone or the elderly. Staying connected to the people within our circles is a good way to give support and be supported.

Create Routine and Structure

Keeping predictability within our environments and relationships during an unpredictable time is important. Maintaining our daily routines and structures as well as engaging in calming and regular activities can help to manage stress and improve our mental health.

Some of these routines and activities may include regular times to wake up, and go to sleep, preparing healthy meals, short exercise blocks during the day, listening to music, dancing and spending time outside in nature, while following the rules around social distancing.

Connecting with Media

It is important to stay informed using reputable media sources. Limit your time watching the news and be mindful of the content young children are exposed to as they often hear and take in more than we may realize. Our government sponsored websites are a good source of information. They are written without sensationalism, which helps to keep us calm, while making us knowledgeable about up-to-date and factual information.

As we all strive to stay connected and create structure and routine in our lives, every day I search out the many positive things happening within the PSB. Recently I enjoyed watching the video message one of our school principals sent to his school community with a wealth of good information and cameo appearances of his two children. He closed by saying: ‘you are not stuck at home, you are safe at home.’

Stay safe and thank you for remaining connected. We appreciate the opportunity to continue working with students and parents.

Parker Grimmer

Director, Public Schools Branch

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