Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff;

Click here to view a message from Director Parker Grimmer.

I am standing in front of one of our schools today because these are important places, and one of the places where learning happens for students. Within our schools and PSB offices, we are now planning and preparing for students and staff to safely return to school in September.

These last days of the school year, much like the last months, have been like no other. We have all been doing things much differently than we have in the past. 2019-2020 has been a busy, demanding, challenging, at times frustrating, but ultimately a successful year for students and those who have worked with them including parents and staff. We hope everyone is able to reflect back on some positive, productive, and successful moments.

We want to take a moment to recognize the efforts of students, parents, and staff. Thank you for your patience, energy, commitment, teamwork, willingness to try new things, and do old things in new ways. These words come from sharing and observing what we have seen on the journey with our educational community these last weeks. Our shared success is reflected in the accomplishments of our students, and we should be pleased with our efforts working together to assist in their success. We have learned once again that good things can happen, even in the most challenging circumstances, when we work together.

We haven’t been perfect though. I can’t tell you how many times COVID-19 has proved my thinking to be wrong, or how some days our planning in the morning was no longer current or helpful by the afternoon. While we made inroads into how we supported students and families in need, we still have work to do to provide more equitable learning for students. We have all learned so much through this pandemic, including the importance of reflection and the need to routinely adjust our thinking and actions. I want to genuinely thank students, parents, and staff for supporting us, even through the times when we and our circumstances seemed most uncertain.

Planning is underway to bring students and staff safely back to our schools and work spaces. The provincial government’s Fall Education Readiness Committee has been working to determine the plan for returning to school in September and the PSB is working with the Chief Public Health Office and our partners at the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning to determine the best configurations for buses, schools, and workspaces.

We also need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that learning in school might need to look differently next year. We will make every effort to communicate plans in a timely way so all of our educational partners can prepare as much as possible.

While there is still some uncertainty to all this, we know with certainty that students are best served when we work together. We thank everyone for their patience and cooperation as we work through planning to return to school. We look forward to the 2020-2021 school year, with all of the challenges and opportunities it will hold.

Congratulations to those who have graduated, are moving to a new school, or who are retiring as one of our valued employees. We are also excited to welcome new students, parents and staff who will be joining the PSB next year!

I wish every member of our PSB educational community a safe, restful, and happy summer!

Until September, take care,

Parker Grimmer

Director

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff;

The Public Schools Branch would like to send congratulations and best wishes to our 2020 Graduates. We want to congratulate all our grade 12 graduates on their many accomplishments during their education journey these last 12 years. We hope they enjoy the recognitions and ceremonies that are being planned for them next week to mark this major achievement.

We live in interesting times that we will always remember. Our 2020 graduates will certainly never forget the year they graduated. Even though our graduates are leaving public education during a worldwide pandemic, they have remained focused, pushed forward, and developed skills of resiliency that will carry them well into the future. Their determination and resolve has been inspiring.

This is a time for our graduates, to reflect on and celebrate their accomplishments, efforts, and actions with their parents, family and friends. Our graduates have achieved so many great things to get to this stage of life, and in doing so, they have created endless possibilities for themselves. We wish all graduates the best of success in what life has to offer as they head to university, college, the work force, or other pursuits. We encourage our PSB graduates to continue to fill chapters of the amazing story they are writing. #classof2020

COVID-19 Response to Mental Health Concerns

A Child and Youth Urgent Mental Health Care service is now available for children and youth ages 18 and under with urgent mental health needs or very high emotional distress. Children and youth with urgent mental health needs can call the virtual clinic for support and assistance. Children, youth, and their parents can call toll free at 1-866-833-5443 from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily to connect with trained Health PEI mental health clinicians, who will provide a thorough risk assessment, help to stabilize any crisis, and connect to appropriate community supports.

Outside of the Child and Youth Urgent Mental Health Care hours, individuals requiring urgent mental health support can also access the Island Help Line (1-800-218-2885), Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868), their local emergency department, or 911. Community Mental Health Services, Student Well Being Teams, Strongest Families, and other community partners will continue to be available for all non-urgent mental health questions and concerns. For information on these services contact your local Community Mental Health office or Mental Health and Addictions Information Service at 1-833-533-9333.

Thank you to those who sent me feedback on the benefit and value of these weekly communications that began back in mid-March. It is my hope that these messages have been helpful. Next Wednesday will be the last letter for the 2019-20 school year. Plans are in the works to make it both a video and written message.

Until then, take care,

Parker Grimmer

Director

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The Department of Education and Lifelong Learning and education authorities are seeking feedback from parents, educational assistants, and youth service workers regarding the delivery of individual programming and respite services offered to students with special educational needs during our recent period of home learning due to COVID-19.
Your participation in the survey is important and very much appreciated. Results will be used only to identify the strengths and challenges of the programming provided.

• The survey takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes to complete.
• Your responses are anonymous and confidential. There is no way to see your name or email address.
• Results go directly to survey coordinators at the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning and are recorded on a secure site.
• The survey will close at 4 PM on Tuesday, June 23.

• The link to the survey is https://forms.gle/QpSah14o9Y8L9GsS8
Erin Johnston
Assistant Director, Public Schools Branch
P.O. Box 8600
Charlottetown, P.E.I.  C1A 8V7
902-368-6823
eijohnston@edu.pe.ca

 

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff;

A friend recently shared with me a message from the Prince Edward Island Public Service Commission about working from home with kids during the pandemic. The information is very helpful and I have drawn from it to share several important points for your consideration.

Many parents and staff are still working from home as they continue to manage the realities of dealing with COVID-19. We are all beginning to understand that working from home might continue for some time, at least part-time. Many are working alongside their family members, including children and may find this to be a challenge. There are a few positive things that we can all do in these situations.

Approach unpredictable times with flexibility. Being flexible helps us to better adapt to changes happening at home or with our workday. The positive side of being flexible is we are never going to feel stuck doing things “the one right way.” We can learn from our efforts, make revisions, and try something else without judging ourselves harshly. It is important to be kind to ourselves when we struggle and our day doesn’t unfold with our work and family the way we planned it would.

Find relief. Life is tough sometimes, really tough and at times we need to find relief in the simplest of things. Nature, family, music, cooking, art, gardening, exercise, reading, etc. can give us the break we need from our struggles so that we can recharge and refocus. Positive things will happen for our families and ourselves when we find ways to get some relief from life’s challenges.

Seek support to gain solutions. It is important to reach out for emotional support to those you trust.   Professional support can also help us gain new skills and strategies to manage our priorities and struggles. To access advice and find solutions to problems that are affecting work, family or your well-being, contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 1-800-239-3826 or eap@gov.pe.ca. It’s free and confidential.

For more information on how to work from home with kids in a pandemic, click the link: https://www.poynter.org/business-work/2020/how-to-try-to-work-from-home-with-kids-in-a-pandemic/. The article includes practical and helpful suggestions to support working from home while managing students of various ages.

Take care,

Parker Grimmer

Director, Public Schools Branch

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff;

As we move into June and the last month of school for the 2019-2020 school year, Public Schools Branch (PSB) staff are working diligently on the many year-end tasks and are planning and preparing to ensure success for September 2020. In accordance with the provisions of Phase 3 in Renew PEI, school staffs have more opportunities to support students and familiesthroughout the month of June.

Teachers are available to schedule in-person appointments with students who wish to review their learning, the Respite Program is being offered in all PSB schools, some teachers are connecting with students through Google Meet, and PSB consultants and school counsellors have begun to reach out to families needing specialized supports. Home learning will continue until June 12 for high school students and June 19 for K-9 students.

Schools have been very successful in finding ways to maintain connections and relationships with students and families.  As we continue to navigate our changing landscape and find our way through these unprecedented times, we want to thank students, families and staff for their efforts and for working together.

Take care,

Parker Grimmer

Director, Public Schools Branch

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