T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land, makes reference to April being the cruelest month. Indeed, this month has been a difficult one for our school board community, but we are seeing signs of resilience and strength.
We extend condolences to those who have recently lost loved ones, either due to covid-19 or other events such as the recent tragedy in Nova Scotia. Loss of life is always difficult, but the gun violence that took place in Nova Scotia has left us reeling. We mourn alongside our maritime neighbours and keep them in our thoughts. As a sign of tribute and respect for those victims, we lowered the flags at our schools, centres and head office to half-mast.
Closer to home, we also offer our heartfelt sympathies to the family of Joseph Zemanovich, longtime commissioner at this school board who passed away earlier this month. Joe was a vibrant member of Lester B. Pearson’s Council of Commissioners from 1998 to 2014. Joe was an enthusiastic supporter of public education, and he was particularly passionate about advocating for students with special needs. He respectfully challenged the status quo, and he pushed all us to do better in service to our students. He left his mark on this school board that is for certain. He will be missed.
The shutdown of our schools and centres has been difficult for our students, teachers, staff, administrators, and parents. Coping with the coronavirus pandemic means facing new challenges on a daily basis. I want to thank each and every member of our community for all of your actions, big and small, that are helping everyone adjust as best they can.
Despite this serious health emergency, I am proud to say that we have maintained our sense of community. Even though we cannot gather in person, and classes are currently not in session, we are still coming together to support each other in many ways. Through video meetings, emails, and social media messages, we have witnessed the level of caring and concern we have for each other. I am especially proud of the outstanding efforts of our staff and administrators to keep emergency daycare services available to the families of essential workers who need childcare during the shutdown.
To encourage our students to continue with their learning, we have activities and resources to help learners of all ages stay engaged and connected to the curriculum. We are also urging everyone in our community to take care of themselves and their loved ones. Self-care means being mindful of proper eating, sleeping and exercising habits; these are all important for our physical and mental health. Caring for others means asking people how they are doing, volunteering if we can, and supporting those whose struggles may be greater than our own.
We know that this health emergency will be with us for some time, so we are now planning for the weeks and months to come. The staff and administration at Lester B. Pearson are already hard at work to plan for this new future.
If you were to visit our head office right now, you would see many pictures of rainbows decorating the windows. Children of our head office employees, many of whom are also Lester B. students, have sent in artwork to remind us that better days are ahead, that we must focus on looking for the sunshine and rainbows that follow intense storms. One such piece of art is featured below.
In the meantime, please take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your neighbors. We are all in this together, as the saying goes, so let’s continue to pull together and support each other.