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Connecting community from a distance

The Booker School is a small community.

Community is one of the reasons people join us.

How can we continue to connect our community during this time of social distancing?

It is Monday, March 23, and according to our school calendar, this is the day school resumes for our students, our families, and our teachers. However, due to the recent pandemic, schooling has changed and looking at what it shall become is our first priority. Over the past two weeks of March break, I have received a number of emails and messages from our community; many offering support as my wife and I self-isolate, but others sharing stories of their own. Many of these stories were hard to hear; children waking up in a panic about the virus, others crying due to uncertainty and missing their friends. It is not just the adults feeling the stress of this situation we find ourselves in, and this is important to remember.

Our country's leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, spoke to the children of the nation, demonstrating empathy for the changing world they have woken up in. It is hard enough for the adults in our community to recognise the importance of social distancing and the other measures that Nova Scotia are bringing in, let alone the children in our care. As a school community, there are things that are far beyond our control, but there are also initiatives and strategies that we can put in place in order to support one another.

The teachers met this morning to discuss strategies and what our priorities are. We recognise that every family in our community is different and that home-learning is going to look different from household to household, so what can we do to help?

  1. We have scheduled video conferencing for every class, from Pre-Primary through to Grade 6. We are hoping that this connection with teachers and peers helps our students to feel a part of the wider community.

  2. We have scheduled video conferencing for the teachers to meet 1:1 with each family. This is designed to be a support aid, to bounce ideas around, to give feedback on activities, and to make goals for what can realistically be achieved at home. It is also a chance to talk about frustrations as well as celebrate successes.

  3. We are collating resources on a soon-to-be published page: for anyone to use.

  4. We are building structure, providing activities, and connecting with feedback/feedforward through Seesaw and Google.

A Creative Arts Therapist in Halifax is producing a series of videos to offer support for families. In the video above, she gives advice to families on creating 'Structure with Wiggle Room' for children. Students do well with predictability, and in this time of uncertainty, having things that they can safely assume will happen can help keep them grounded with a sense of well-being.

During this period of home-learning, we still want to remember and embrace our Educational Program. We will constantly reflect upon our practices to ensure that we are delivering the program as laid out above. School is about more than Academics; it is about community, personal well-being, and how we want to be as a society. We must remember why we are here, and why people invest in our society to support their children:

During this difficult time, we can come together to support each other as a community, just not physically. Many companies are moving away from the term Social Distancing and using Physical Distancing instead. With the worries and stress that many are feeling, social isolation could become detrimental. Let us strengthen our communication skills with the modern tools at our disposal. The Booker School will be embracing what Seesaw and Google have to offer, and teachers, students and parents are encouraged to be in regular communication.

Why health officials say 'physical distancing' is a better term than 'social distancing' - CTV News

I believe that our community is strong, and that together - through communication and collaboration - we can work together to provide amazing opportunities for the children in our care. Let us face these challenges and continue to build our community together.


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