When I joined Greenwood as the school’s third Principal in 2018, I expected that I would face challenges in my role — problems to solve, new initiatives to get off the ground, planning for the school’s future. I certainly did not anticipate one of those challenges to be contending with a pandemic! I assume that you are also contending with new challenges and doing your best to navigate the current circumstances in which we find ourselves.
It has been wonderful to see the students back in the building after such a long time away. I am pleased that families are making the decision that is best for them, either to attend in school or continue to learn remotely. Our teachers are finding new ways each day to optimize teaching students in school and remotely simultaneously and it feels more and more like everyone is together.
Although a few things are a little strange — distancing, wearing masks and a lot of hand sanitizing among them — students seem happy to be back. It is fun to see them interact and find creative ways to express themselves; we are all learning how to look for smiling eyes! New students have faced an added challenge, as it can be difficult to meet new people with masks and physical distancing in place. We will keep working to help them make connections.
Whether students are learning at home, at school or both, our mission remains the same: To challenge and inspire each student to develop the knowledge, skills and character needed to reach their full potential in life. My other goal is to keep students learning in the building as much as possible. If students or staff members test positive for COVID-19, those with whom they were in close contact will need to stay home and learn or work remotely per Toronto Public Health.
Let’s do all that we can to keep Greenwood students in school and to keep our students, staff and families safe. I cannot control what staff and families decide to do outside of school hours, but I will remind everyone that the current regulations limit indoor gatherings to 10 people maximum. A much safer approach to socializing is for very small groups (2-3 students) to meet for a walk, bike or backyard distanced chat.
I also know that many students are back to worthwhile external activities that promote physical activity and well-being. Thank you for reminding your children to practise physical distancing, hand sanitizing and wearing masks where appropriate while participating in activities outside of school to protect themselves, their peers, their families and all of us at Greenwood.
Having said that, given that COVID-19 spreads easily, someone could test positive for the virus even if they have done everything right. Someone testing positive will naturally feel a lot of anxiety, both for themselves and for those around them. Blaming and shaming intensifies those feelings and prevents the community from working together to stop the spread of COVID. When hearing about a positive test result in any part of our lives, I hope that we can all turn to kindness and empathy first.
We started the school year with a session with parents and teachers hosted by Dr. Tranter, who explained the benefits of being a caring community. At Greenwood, we care deeply for your children’s wellbeing and education. This year may have some ups and downs (and ins and outs), but we will make the most of this together.