The staff at Riverside Public School in Prince Albert wanted their students and families to know they were important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The staff released a video this week to pass an important message to the members of the Riverside Family.
According to Leanne Tretiak, Riverside’s Principal, the concept came from social worker Laura McDonald
“She thought that it would be a nice thing to do for our school family and our school community. We are finding that we are desperately missing being with our kids at school and with our families at school and Riverside is a family focused school and it was a way of expressing our love for our kids and our students when we aren’t with them in real life right now,” Tretiak said.
The message in the video featured staff holding signs to read “Hello Riverside Rams. We hope you are staying healthy and safe. Please remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and more loved than you know. We love you, we miss you and we can’t wait until we’re together again.”
She said the students and families are important to the school and staff.
“At Riverside we really truly believe in wraparound support with our families and we are very honoured that our Riverside families allow us to have their children during the school day to not only just educate them but to help them become the best human beings that they can be.”
Tretiak said that they honour the role of parents and caregivers as the first line of education for students in the school.
“We are always grateful that they allow us the honour and privilege of spending time with their children during the school day,” she said.
The challenges of the changing world of education are evident since the school closed in March.
“It’s interesting in that we are living in such uncertain and unprecedented times now and the way that we came about being in this situation was so fast that nobody, I don’t believe worldwide really had a chance to truly be ready for it.”
One challenge of new online learning is the quick ramp up on some programming. Tretiak said that sometimes it takes months with experts and teachers collaborating to build appropriate platforms for online education.
“When we are looking at our tech learning that we are trying to support families with we are learning alongside with our families in how to do that,” she said.
Another challenge is not all families have access, which is not unique to Riverside.
“We are trying to find ways to support those families with learning activities along the same kind of parallel learning that we are providing for our kids who do have some access to technology as well.”
She explained that the focus from both the Ministry of Education and the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division is basic literacy, especially for elementary students.
“ So looking at reading and writing and math, but we at Riverside are also focusing on relationships with families, like we always do, and trying to find activities while families are working through the stressful time at home together. Activities that they can do together and help bring them together closer and to help them weather this storm,” Tretiak said.
She explained that the general feedback has been positive. One example was a teacher who drove by a park and recognized one of the families from her class. She rolled down the window and kept safe distance and the mother explained that they had purchased a kite and they were flying a kite for the first time both as a family and as individuals.
“It was because of the support of that teacher that it was something that they thought they could try,” she said.
Tretiak said that teachers and families are important and each play an integral role in having safe and healthy communities.
“Like everybody, we are hoping that we can get back to school as quickly as it is safely possible with our kids. We are very grateful at Riverside that from all of the reports that we had from our families that our Riverside staff and family seems to be healthy and safe right now from this global pandemic. And I really do wish everybody out there stay well and healthy during these really tough, highly unusual and really unprecedented times. We are all trying and we will get through this together like we always do at Riverside,” Tretiak explained.