May 1st Update

Dear Teachers,

Today, under normal circumstances, we would have gathered in our respective associations to conduct our annual business meeting. This day always brought warm smiles and embraces while at the same time provided an opportunity to connect with colleagues right across the province. I was looking forward to addressing the membership at this year’s “May Day” meeting. Unfortunately, today looks drastically different, and there are many questions among teachers around the future of home learning and the expectations that will come as a result.

At a press conference yesterday, the Department of Education made several announcements on how the remainder of the school year would roll out. Although the department has been good in consulting with the Federation throughout this pandemic, we were not consulted about the new announcements that were made, nor were we informed that an education press conference would be happening.

We have been told that this occurred because of a miscommunication and we accept the explanation on how that occurred and the sincerity of the apologies regarding that. We spent most of the day seeking clarity and information regarding what was announced and said, and sharing our concerns and opinions of the implications of these decisions. We have also heard from many members today who have legitimate concerns about the impact of the announced changes. We have attached a document that addresses some of the questions and concerns we and teachers have regarding the information provided in yesterday’s press conference.

The Federation continues to emphasize the importance of the health and safety of staff and students. We will continue to insist that any decisions made must be done through a lens of protecting both staff and students, with special consideration for those who are immunocompromised.

This is a new experience for all spokes on the education wheel. I am very proud of how teachers, administrators, and educational consultants have responded. As professionals, we continue to navigate the challenging days of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been required to find new ways to manage our professional responsibilities. Looking to the future is hopeful as we cautiously embark on the path to reopen our province in a "safe and measured" way.

Care and compassion have always been at the heart of our profession, and you continue to keep it at the core as you place importance on maintaining these connections through your work with students. You have found new ways to achieve this, and it's truly remarkable how well you have succeeded in doing so! These interactions have made significant impacts on families in our Island communities.

We will, through time, get back to where we were before the pandemic unfolded. Perhaps our focus has shifted, but we are steadfast in advocating for teachers to be in workplaces that are safe and secure, where learning can be facilitated in ways we are all comfortable.
The upcoming days and months ahead will present challenges. We will work together through the issues that will arise in an attempt to get back to education as we formally knew it!

We are on the home stretch, but it is certainly not how we planned on completing this school year. You have indeed demonstrated your commitment to your students and your profession on many levels. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. I hope spring has brought a renewed sense of gratitude and appreciation for the many things that we previously took for granted.

Please remember that the Federation continues to advocate on your behalf and is here should you need support. Please do not hesitate to reach out should you have a question or a concern.

Stay safe and healthy. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Aldene

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