The strategic plan for the Prince Albert Catholic School Division is changing the timelines after a vote during the board of education’s meeting on Monday, Feb. 8.
The provincial government has already started seeking feedback across the province for its new Education Sector Plan 2020-2030 but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have fallen behind schedule.
“We are going to start doing some planning for next year, although we have been talking already a lot about it and doing lots of processes to support what that will look like. We know that we have some work to do with our families and our students to get some feedback on how things are going. So we are looking forward to that,” director of education Lorel Trumier said.
According to a memo, in recent discussions the provincial plan will be developed for a one-to-two year interim plan. Administration recommended to the board that a plan be developed that aligns with the provincial plan.
The recommendation suggested that the division develop a transition plan and process to include feedback from key stakeholders such as parents, staff and students that align with the provincial plan. According to Trumier, one goal of the consultations is to find out what has worked and what hasn’t through the last year of learning during a pandemic and try to improve for next year.
“We know that there will be another six to nine months ahead,” Trumier added.
The themes of the provincial plan after consultations were early literacy, mental health and wellbeing and learning elements impacted by the pandemic.
“The board is beginning its processes and administration is working towards understanding the pieces that we need to put in place for the next school year,” she added.
Trumier asked the board to consider the approval to move forward with a process that would put a plan in place for the 2021-2022 school year. The division wants to begin the process as soon as possible for an interim plan aligned with the Ministry.
“Our board is starting to work with our administration here and obviously they are a policy governance board and what we were bringing to the table on Monday night was elements of that. We want to get a school division plan, an interim plan established for next year. We are using trauma-informed aspects to plan our year ahead,” she said.
Part of this preparation has included sessions for the staff, administration and board with Kevin Cameron, the executive director of the North American Centre for Threat Assessment. At the regular meeting the session was placed in the public record so that people could be aware of it.
“What we have all gone through is quite traumatic but it doesn’t have to be all negative. We are starting to plan for the year ahead so we have taken some time to work with Kevin Cameron to talk about a trauma informed response,” Trumier said.
According to Trumier, in response to a question from trustee Andrea Ring, there are staff in the division who want further sessions with Cameron.
Cameron, who is based in Lloydminster, is about to release another guideline document for school divisions based on planning and procedure. Trumier explained that in the sessions he already explored those ideas.
“We have already worked through a session with him (for) school-based and central office admin (staff). We have had the board work with him where he has done some concept presentation for them to consider and we did a voluntary session for our entire staff,” Trumier said.
She shared an analogy of Cameron’s where if a family goes missing when they come back they are welcomed, which she explained was an analogue to the pandemic.
“We are not functioning at our optimal level because we are navigating so many elements that we are not used to and that we are all just learning along the way because COVID is novel, it is new and not something that we have experienced,” Trumier said.
They will use the trauma-informed response to build the interim plan for returning to school next year.
St. Mary Principal Mark Phaneuf also found Cameron’s sessions useful as an exercise. Phaneuf explained that one concept he found interesting in the session was post-traumatic growth.
“When trauma is introduced there is actually growth that comes out of it as well. And I don’t mean to minimize the stress and stressors that the pandemic has caused but in the case of education and you can see it in our staff and students it has also caused immeasurable growth in all of us. So these are things that we will be able to carry forward,” he said.
Trumier explained that engagement would be taking place over the February break to get feedback. She said that staff have been dedicated to doing their best but there is always room for improvement.
“This generation of people have never experienced this so we know there is some things that will improve and we are working towards getting the feedback from our families and students and staff to do,” Trumier said.