Story by: Kayla Kreutzberg
Photo by: Pxhere:
It’s the last day of school before winter break begins for those within the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB). The next time staff and students will be back, won’t be until the new year.
For the UGDSB this year, it was all about being able to adapt and evolve.
Heather Loney, communications and community engagement officer at the UGDSB said March and into the spring, was really characterized by the massive shift to distance learning and working.
“But some of the areas that we focused on that we were really proud of include assessing and addressing the work from home needs of our staff, and doing the same thing to assess the needs of students, and families with the technology they have in their homes,” Loney said.
Loney said in addition to that, after assessing what the technology needs of the families are, then it’s a matter of getting that technology to them.
“So, that was a feat we were quite proud of because we had to develop a protocol to safely get into those schools which were closed, and safely retrieving all that technology, and then figuring out a way to deliver tech to more than 4,500 families,” Loney said.
She said that it took a lot of coordination and help from many different people, but it was remarkable to see all of that work.
Loney said one thing that really jumps out at her during the period in the spring when all the schools were closed, was the support that staff and students showed to front-line works in the community.
“So, just this one example of this, there was a team of Upper Grand staff and students, they saw a need in the community, so they decided to start printing 3D printed face shields for front-line health care workers,” Loney said.
She said they have 3D printers all across the UGDSB, and people worked around the clock to get the face shields printed and delivered to local agencies in need.
A monumental thing next year for the UGDSB will be the search for a new Director of Education.
Loney said their current director, Martha Rogers, announced her retirement this year, only to agree to extend it because of the pandemic.
“Martha will be replaced at some point, so, that’s something that is very big in our board because we’ve never had to do that before, Martha’s been the Director of Education at the Upper Grand District School Board since the school board has been in place,” Loney said.
Rogers has been the Director of Education for the board since 1995, making her the longest serving Director in Ontario.