Ask a PSB School Psychologist

Hello parents and guardians! Welcome to ‘Ask a School Psychologist’!

Wondering how to manage bedtime worries, what to tell your teen who wants to visit friends, or where to begin with structuring your child’s day? If you have any questions you would like to submit to our PSB Psychology Team concerning COVID isolation, academics, behaviour, or well-being, send them to askapsychologist@edu.pe.ca.

We can’t promise we’ll get to every question, but we will be posting anonymous responses to some of your questions on the PSB Student Services Facebook page.

This project is for information sharing with you and our broader parent and guardian audience. If you are experiencing an emergency, please call the Island Helpline (1-800-218-2885) or Emergency Health Services (911).

Please submit your questions by May 8th.

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April 22, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students;

This is the fifth week of schools being closed since we returned from the March Break. This is also the third week of teacher led home learning. What education looks like on PEI now has been the culmination of the advocacy and teamwork of many. The efforts our educational leaders and teachers have made around home learning during this pandemic has allowed us to maintain connections with students and families. It has been our response to staying apart and supporting our communities and health care system. It looks and feels much different than what we are used to and we are all having to adjust. PSB students, parents, and staff have always responded in times of crisis and this time is no exception. We still have much to do, but we have accomplished much these last few weeks, and this success is thanks, in part, to you and your efforts.

We thank you for your support of the learning that has rolled out from teachers thus far, and we ask you to continue to communicate with them. We are all new to this, so we need to know if you require additional support. We have identified and are providing Chromebooks for our grade 12 students who need them most, so they can access on-line learning materials. We also have print materials and basic learning supply packages available. Please contact the Support for Families line at 902-368-5155 or supportforfamilies@edu.pe.ca to access supports we may be able to provide to assist with home learning.

Please refer to the chronology of COVID-19 education related decisions posted on our website https://tinyurl.com/chronologyeducationdecisions

Early in my teaching career, a parent gave me a poem called ‘Unity’ that had been written by an anonymous author. It was presented to me as a gift and the parent had framed it in their own calligraphy. The poem, which has remained on display in my classrooms and offices ever since, tells a story about the efforts of a parent and teacher working together to ensure the success of a child. I have looked at it often as a source of guidance and encouragement. It struck me that in our new reality, this poem has probably never been more appropriate than today.

UNITY

I dreamed I stood in a studio
And watched two sculptors there,
The clay they used was a young child’s mind
And they finished it with care.

One was a teacher; the tools he used
Were books and music and art;
One a parent with a guiding hand
And a gentle and loving heart.

Day after day the teacher toiled
With a touch that was deft and sure
While the parent laboured by his side
And polished and smoothed it o’er.

And when at last their task was done
They were proud of what they had wrought,
For the things they had moulded into the child
Could neither be sold nor bought

And each agreed he would have failed
If he had worked alone.
For behind the parent stood the school
And behind the teacher, the home.

Many people remind us now that we are in this together. From an education standpoint, I think we always have been. Thank you for your efforts in supporting learning at your home and for working together.

There are no words to express the level of sympathy that is being felt right now in many of our homes due to the horrific events in our neighboring province, Nova Scotia. Many people have been personally impacted and know family, friends, or first responders who were affected by this terrible tragedy. We are united in our grief and our condolences. Please take good care of family members and yourself.

Parker Grimmer

Director, Public Schools Branch

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StudentsAchieve (SAS) update for Parents and Students

We are pleased to report that StudentsAchieve (SAS) is now available for teachers to mass email parents and students! StudentsAchieve is fully functional and working well. Given the current school closures and shift in how learning is happening, teachers are not currently entering any data into SAS. In order to avoid any confusion, we will leave SAS “off” for now. If you would like updated information on your child’s progress from earlier this year or during the home learning situation, please contact your child’s teacher. When schools re-open, we will make SAS available again to parents and students!

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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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Dear Parents/Guardians and Students;

We appreciate that this continues to be a busy time for families and the learning opportunities happening for students at home may be both rewarding and, at times, frustrating. The Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning (DELL) said at his briefing last evening: ‘Schools are the heart of our communities and they are reaching out to parents and students in ways they have never before.’ By many accounts, so far, this new way of learning is going well. It was clear that there was a high level of engagement happening when listening to a student, parent, and one of our teachers recently on the evening news. We offer our sincere appreciation for the efforts that are taking place in homes across the Island right now.

Everybody is Working Hard

Our staff have been working very hard over the last week, with our partners at the DELL, preparing for this new reality and how we will continue to create learning opportunities for students. Our teachers and staff care very deeply about the success of students and their commitment to ensuring that students have the skills they need to be successful is unchanged, even in these challenging times.

We are also realizing that our education system does not stand by itself. We are linked with everyone’s realities and we are partners dealing with this global health crisis. We are all working hard under these circumstances, including following all the health advice of the Chief Public Health Office, to make this transition to home learning as seamless as possible. What students, parents, and teachers are doing has never been done before in our lifetime. Feeling successful as we learn and work differently is going to take some time. It is appropriate to start slowly while we establish new routines. Our teachers are presently looking at ways to develop and share learning resources that will be helpful to students, parents, and learning.

Learning Materials for Students

We understand that some of our students and parents are interested in collecting learning materials at their schools to support learning at home. We are exploring ways to do this that would follow the necessary health requirements of the Chief Public Health Office. We thank everyone for their patience and we look forward to providing you with more information in the future.

A basic school supply package including paper, pencils, and scribblers is being made available for any student or parent who may not have access to these materials at this time. Families are asked to contact the Support for Families line at 902-368-5155 or supportforfamilies@edu.pe.ca for further information and assistance.

School Trips

Due to COVID-19, the PSB has canceled all in-province and out-of-province student travel for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. This includes all end of year field trips. Non-fundraised money that students or parents paid directly toward school trips will be returned. Schools that have been impacted by this decision are currently working with the PSB to return non-fundraised money back to families as soon as possible.

The PSB is committed to ensuring that our students have what they need to be successful. We are looking forward to the date when we can welcome our students back into our face-to-face learning environments to continue the learning and the great experiences everyone expects of public education. What will remain the same until then is that the relationships we have with students and parents matter a great deal. We are in this together and education will continue as we move forward.

We thank everyone for their support and we look forward to connecting and working with students and parents in the days ahead.

Parker Grimmer

Director, Public Schools Branch

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Accessing Your Student Google Education Account

Dear students, parents, guardians, and caregivers –

Over the past week, we were able to make personal calls to thousands of households to share student login information for our Google Education accounts. We realize that for some of you, we were not able to make a successful connection. If you or a student in your care is still experiencing a challenge logging into their account at https://www.google.com/, please reach out to your child’s teacher.

We have also created a quick reference guide for how students can login to their Google account from home – https://tinyurl.com/guidetoclassroom (4MB). Using the Google Chrome browser is also recommended.

Tips for Home Learning have been published by the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning and can be found by visiting:https://tinyurl.com/peihomelearning

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An Idea for Home

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April 1, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students;

I know there are many PSB students and parents who are at home wondering about the changes to student learning over the coming weeks. There may also be increasing concerns about everyone’s mental health and well-being as we make our way through each day in this new reality. We all have questions, but are also starting to have some of the answers.

Student Learning

Premier Dennis King, Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning Brad Trivers, and Department of Education and Lifelong Learning (DELL) Director of English Programs, Dr. Tammy Hubley-Little gave details of the educational plan for students at a to public briefing yesterday afternoon. Additional information with guidelines to help frame expectations and responsibilities for home learning have also been shared with teachers.

We know that learning for students will continue even though classes are cancelled until May 11. DELL staff are supporting teachers in compacting their courses and curricula. Teachers will be collaborating with each other to enable learning opportunities for students to continue. DELL staff will support teachers as they transition to leading their students’ home learning.

During the week of April 6th, home learning will transition from the DELL resources that have been provided through our website to the direction of teachers. Students who were on track and were engaged with their learning prior to the school closure, will graduate from grade 12 or progress to their next grade level. A plan will be put in place before students return to school to address any learning gaps that exist as a result of this pandemic.

We are working to ensure that programming and resources are in place that are fair and equitable for all our students. This includes consideration for families who do not have internet access or other resources. The PSB is also working with the DELL to develop a plan that will provide curricular support in a variety of ways so that access will be reasonably available to all. We have the flexibility with our education system to support students and we have a lot of qualified staff who will ensure students are not left behind. When students return to school, we will refocus our efforts so we can move all students forward in the learning journey.

Our teachers are excited to resume their efforts to assist students with their learning. Many have been or are in the process of reaching out to students to check in to see how things are going. I want to reassure you that our staff are working very hard to prepare for this new way of learning. Until this plan is fully shared with students and parents, I encourage you to continue to look at resources that have been posted on our website to support learning at home. Additionally, please consider the positive impact something as simple as integrating learning into your daily routines can be. For example, a half hour of reading a couple times a day, regular exercise, or assisting in measuring items for meal preparation. These are a few simple things that can support students with continuation of learning in a manageable way until more formal learning opportunities are implemented.

I encourage you to please refer to the Parents and Students – School Closure FAQ located at https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/education-and-lifelong-learning/parents-and-students-school-closure-faq and on our website for more information about home learning questions and resources provided for students to continue learning.

Support for Families

With classes not resuming until May 11, the absence of access to school breakfast and lunch programs may put a financial strain on families. Assistance is being provided to families dealing with food insecurity. Families are being asked to contact the Support for Families line 902-368-5155 or supportforfamilies@edu.pe.ca for further information and assistance. If you know of a family who could use this support, please share this information with them.

Among the best things we can all do right now is to focus on our family and being well. We have created a Student Services Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/psbstudentservices for families to access information that may be of assistance to help through this difficult and stressful time. Please refer to https://edu.princeedwardisland.ca/psb/parents_students/covid-19-resources/ for some helpful resources.

We are clearly in unprecedented times. Premier King said at yesterday’s briefing that we are in this together and assured us, ‘we will get through this together’. This is also our commitment from everyone at the PSB. We know that there will continue to be questions. We will try to ensure a timely response to the questions that come our way, and we will post our responses on our PSB website. Please check back often and we will do our best to keep you as up-to-date as possible through our weekly Wednesday messages.

Thank you for your continued support.

Parker Grimmer

Director, Public School Branch

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Student Computer Account Information Request

We have received many requests for student computer account information.  For a short period of time, we are not taking any new requests so we can “catch up”!  Please note, that when the Public Schools Branch calls you back, the call will appear as “blocked caller” – please answer so we can give you the information!  Also, please only submit one request per student! We will get back to you as soon as we can!

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Have a look at our video. We miss everyone!

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