Pulling together in difficult times is a highlight in Catholic School Division

Lorel Trumier /Herald File Photo

The resilience of the staff, students and families in the COVID-19 pandemic was a highlight of the year 2020 for Prince Albert Catholic School Division director of education Lorel Trumier.

According to Trumier, the responsiveness of everyone to the unprecedented situation really stood out.

“Everybody is trying to respond in the best way they know how and sometimes we are getting that right and sometimes we are not. But we are still working every day to get better and in a global pandemic everybody is going through very difficult times,” she said.

She added that no parts of the community have been untouched.  Schools closed at the end of last school year moving to remote learning and again entered Level 4 before Christmas and plan to return to in-person learning in mid-January. However, when things began in September, the support in the division stood out.

“I think as we started this school year the cooperation our students and families and our staff has been extraordinary. They have supported every kind of protocol that we needed to move to in the most difficult times,” Trumier said.

She explained that the division remains focused on outcomes for students.

“Some of the silver linings for me are a renewed focus on the outcomes in our curriculum. We are really focused on what is it that we need to achieve and we need to do to become competent readers, writers and mathematicians,” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the focus and made the division have to adapt in many ways. She explained that the students and teachers have learned to work remotely and that is an ever-changing matter.

“What we were doing from March to June is different than even what we are doing today at Level 4 because we have gone to Level 4 for a short period of time. And that’s important. We have to recognize the skill sets that our students are learning, that our staff are learning and different procedures. I think is pretty impressive,” she explained.

Examples of technology in the division included the new Edsby portal and a math pilot project at St. Mary High School in Prince Albert. The math department at the school submitted an application to the division for funding for the project for the 2020-2021 school year. The math department works together to create video lessons that are posted online through the portal.

According to Trumier, the project is expanding with the science department and elementary students using the application for their math lessons. She explained that the changes made could become permanent.

“We are just going through this process so it has been impressive to watch. That we are all in a position of learning something because of COVID and I think some things won’t change,” Trumier explained.

Other examples include online registration for schools expanding and doing professional development for staff remotely — both items that could become permanent.

 “I think there is some silver linings we just need to recognize them and be ready to find them,” she said.

There was also a new board with a full collection of trustees elected on Nov. 9 and Trumier was happy to see that process completed.

“We had a good group of people choosing to run in the election and we were able to actually have a very solid democratic process where people could vote for the candidates they want,” Trumier said.

Elected in the city of Prince Albert were returning board chair Suzanne Stubbs, new trustee Andrea Ring, incumbent Patrick Hordyski, new trustee Chrissy Halliday, incumbent Albert Provost and new trustee Darryl Sande

In the rural subdivision incumbent Maurice Chalifour was returned as trustee.

“We had a great result and obviously a full board returning to some duties here and we are looking forward to continuing that journey with our board of education,”

One thing that the board has celebrated and was mentioned by numerous returning trustees as a point of pride during the election was the graduation rates in the division.

“And we are very much working to achieve that every day it doesn’t matter if you teach in pre-kindergarten or you teach in Grade 3, or 6. That every one of us is working to support that desired outcome for our children,” Trumier said.

She added that if you had told her about the journey of 2020 in January she would not have believed what was ahead.

“I’m delighted with the efforts of our students and staff and our families because I think we are showing the world that this can’t be done. We can learn remotely if we have to,”

Trumier clarified that learning remotely is not preferred because face-to-face learning is better.

“We have to do something that is bigger than ourselves here and that is to take care of our community and we are learning how to do that.”

 “Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to everyone and hope that 2021 starts and ends a lot better than our 2020,” she added.