Friday Update – August 21, 2020

Mark Turner

Dear Parents and Guardians,

It has been quite a week! It feels like the component cogs in the great SMUS machine have roared back into life.

One highlight for me was a phone call with Minister of Education, the Honourable Rob Fleming. In response to a letter I had written, I felt privileged that he took the time, in what must be a hectic schedule, to connect personally to talk to a particular concern that we have about the backlog in the issuing of study permits for international students.

As well as offering to advocate on our behalf, we had a moment to reflect on how planning horizons have changed dramatically. I offered every best wish on behalf of SMUS faculty, staff, students, and parents and guardians as he leads British Columbia back to school over the next few weeks.

Talking of planning horizons makes me aware of how much has changed over the course of a year. Some of these changes are dramatic and obvious, others are more subtle, almost imperceptible.

Last year at this time we devoted all our energy to our new 10-year 2020-2030 strategic vision, Floreat: to flourish. This year at our Senior Leadership Team Retreat, held on Wednesday and Thursday, our focus was very much on the next 10 days. During this period:

  • We will be submitting our plans for return to school to the Ministry of Education for scrutiny and approval.
  • We will welcome back a significant number of boarders to begin their period of 14-day quarantine. After this and appropriate medical checks, it is interesting to note that our boarders from outside Canada will be safest section of our community.
  • I have been asked to confirm that we will not be offering a bi-model or remote learning option once school reconvenes. All the attention of our faculty and staff will be put into delivering lessons in-person on campus. Further details on what to do if your child is immunocompromised or ill will be circulated in the coming days.
  • We have been working on the details of Health and Safety and Back to Work policies, with the intention of keeping everybody as safe as possible. Consideration is being given to every moment of the school day, from first stepping onto a school bus, to a face-mask policy, and to how cohorts and learning groups are given the safest and best learning experience.
  • We have also worked on a communications plan, which will see these return to school plans communicated to you via our website on August 26.
  • The Board of Governors met today for the fourth in a series of Special Review Meetings to be briefed on admissions, boarding mitigation plans and the huge reforms to our timetable and curriculum, to ensure that we can operate effectively in “the new normal.”

My mention last week of the extraordinary achievements of Muriel ‘Capi’ Wylie Blanchet seems to have sparked some interest. Thank you so much to those that have responded with examples of other pioneering and remarkable women to feature in future newsletters. I have even been lent a book, On Their Own Terms: True Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island. The book includes biographies of Emily Carr, painter and writer; Agnes Deans Cameron, teacher, principal and Arctic explorer; Kimiko Murakami, internment camp survivor; Ga’axsta’las, land claims activist; and Ada Annie Rae-Arthur, otherwise known as Cougar Annie, described as a backcountry entrepreneur and bounty hunter! A feast of extraordinary lives that are already inspiring me.

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