Throughout the centuries, the Catholic church has been at the forefront of responding to pandemics. From 1576 when St. Charles Borromeo built alters on top of hills at crossroads to residents could participate in the Eucharist from their windows; to 1656 when Pope Alexander VII ran the network of hospitals in Rome in order to isolate infected people for recovery. We Catholics have always faced pandemics with courage and faith; and I see no difference today in how our Halton Catholic School Community has responded to COVID-19.
For example: distance learning, which was barely functional in March, is becoming more streamlined and efficient by the day. Staff, students and (yes even) board members who were technophobes less than half a year ago are meeting, problem solving and learning on-line with an appetite. Simple hand-washing and infection control in schools, which was barely enforced at one time, has been embraced with a cooperation amongst students and teachers that is more than impressive.
Our focus, from the board, is to support the highest level of learning without compromising the health and safety of our staff and students. This will be clearly demonstrated as we trustees deal with the new funding formulas that are a direct result the COVID-19 financial initiatives from the Ministry of Education.
Another main concern at the board level is to make sure the great initiatives that were started pre-COVID-19, continue. The recent debates and motions passed around French Immersion expansion show this clearly. The expansion of French Immersion at the Grade One level in all of Halton’s municipalities was met with great success this past September, despite all the challenges. The Board of Trustees has recently passed a motion to consider continuing this expansion requesting timelines and dates for the necessary boundary reviews that would have to be in place first. Another example of business as usual is the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) initiative that was started last fall has seen the development of S.T.E.M. steering committee now meets on a regular basis. The committee has a focus on promoting S.T.E.M. at the extracurricular level.
As well, the tough slugging and often mundane debates over by-laws, anti-bullying, code of conduct and the revision of policy has not been hampered. We will continue to govern the board with integrity and best interest of you, our ratepayers, despite the current situation.
In this Holy and Blessed season, I hope and pray that the Christ child will be the center of you home and bless you with every gift that he has to offer.
God Bless You All,
Catholic School Trustee for Burlington