DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was top of mind during a Trillium Lakelands District School Board meeting held on Tuesday, November 9th.


During the meeting, Superintendent Paul Goldring provided trustees with an update about school-related health measures and what board staff are keeping an eye on. He told trustees the current number of active cases of the virus in schools “continue[s] to be really low.”


The board also has a great relationship with the two health units they work with.


“We continue to work bi-weekly with our health units. We have a great relationship with our HKPR health unit and Simcoe-Muskoka health unit. We continue to operate under their guidance in terms of making decisions,” he said.


The board continues to limit the visitors in schools, to only essential visitors and partner organizations, but is now allowing spectators at outdoor sports events.


Whether grade 7 and grade 8 students can leave school grounds for lunch remains the decision of the individual school, Superintendent Goldring stated.


In addition, classrooms are starting to see the removal of plastic coverings.


“We are allowing, plastic to be taken down, so the classrooms are starting to have a more normal look to them,” Superintendent Goldring said.


The board is currently waiting on Health Canada to announce vaccination eligibility for children aged 5 to 11.


“We will be working with our health units to provide evening space and weekend space in our buildings if they need them for vaccination clinics,” Superintendent Goldring explained.


Director of Education Wes Hahn stressed the board continues to focus on health and safety, as well as maintaining their air filtration processes, as main priorities. He also stated, since the pandemic, he’s noticed a shift in the way leadership is practised, from focusing on operations to a more human-based approach.


“It’s not just about policy and procedure. It’s not just about following directions or making sure things get to us on time. It’s about making sure we’re listening and moving with the needs of the system.”

He also explained the importance of this shift.


“In a time like this, when we’re asking people to work on the learning, but also manage themselves, and their health and wellness through a pandemic, it’s quite stressful and the workload is quite high.”


For TLDSB superintendents, Director Hahn said this means balancing “the supervising and managing, with being human and understanding the pressures [which] exist in schools.”


Director Hahn was asked if the board might shift from the current quadmester system back to the former semester system if the pandemic situation improves.


“This is one of those things we just aren’t quite sure of yet. The Ministry of Education and the Chief Medical Officer will make that determination, whether schools can go back to a regular semester system. Once we get that information, we will sit down as a team and discuss how it will look for us moving forward,” he responded.