The 2019-2020 school year was marked by much change and disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it was a year unlike any other, we are pleased to share highlights and progress on our multi-year strategic plan in the Limestone District School Board Director’s Annual Report.
As you know, following a provincial ministerial order, all public schools were closed indefinitely following the March Break. Board and school staff reverted to emergency remote learning to allow for continuity of learning where possible. In a very short period, the board provided more than 2,200 devices to students and staff to support learning and working from home during the extended school closure. Educational Services staff altered its delivery model during the closure to ensure students with mental health and special education needs continued to receive supports and services remotely.
With help from our municipal, community, and health-care partners, we worked together to support our families and our broader community in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the Food Sharing Project worked with our schools to continue supporting almost 1,000 students by providing nutritious food boxes and grocery cards via curbside delivery to replace and supplement food they would have received at school. The board donated a variety of cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment to Kingston Health Sciences Centre, Providence Care, and the Lennox & Addington County General Hospital in Napanee.
Normally, staff would provide the Board of Trustees with a Strategic Plan Mid-Year Update in the spring. Because of the focus on emergency remote learning, and the suspension of many school and board initiatives due to the extended school closure, a mid-year report was not feasible. Senior staff did provide Trustees with a 2019-2020 Strategic Plan Year-End Update in November 2020. Staff reported on items labelled as green (on target), yellow (making progress) and red (needs further attention) within the three strategic pillars of Wellness, Innovation and Collaboration. Given the disruptions during the school year, more red and yellow indicators were evident. We are pleased to report that some of this work has resumed in 2020-2021 despite ongoing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A few areas of focus that remained a priority for Limestone include our work on equity and inclusion to ensure all students feel welcome, safe, and a sense of belonging. As a board, we started the necessary and critical work of confronting anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. We know there is a lot of work to do in our system, and in our communities. We are using lessons from other school boards and relating it to our local context, while engaging with students and families in Black, Indigenous and racialized communities in Limestone. Knowing more about Limestone students – their backgrounds, experiences and needs – is also critical to informing this important work. As part of Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan, the board planned to administer our first-ever student census to learn more about Limestone students – their backgrounds, experiences and needs. The census was delayed but did proceed in the fall of 2020.
Despite the unprecedented challenges of the 2019-2020 school year, we are extremely grateful and proud of the professionalism, dedication, and resilience Limestone staff showed in supporting students and each other. We also would like to thank Limestone students and families for their patience, flexibility and understanding as we navigated these uncertain times together. The past school year clearly demonstrates that when we work together in support of students, we can realize our shared vision to embrace and foster engaging and innovative learning where everyone achieves success and well-being – and where everyone can see themselves in Limestone
Debra Rantz, Outgoing Director of Education
Krishna Burra, Incoming Director of Education