Letter from the Office of the Superintendent

June 29, 2021

To all staff, students, parents and guardians of Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools,

I wanted to take a moment to reflect as our school year concludes.

As a district we have a great deal to be proud of this year. We ensured that despite the greatest challenge of our generation – COVID-19 – students were safe and well supported.

We made sure that the children of essential service workers had schools to attend in the early stages of the pandemic. With the help of Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation, we made sure that many students and families had food on their table, and we continued that food delivery program throughout the summer. We persevered through school exposures and supported our Indigenous communities in ways that were incredibly responsive. The list of accomplishments is long, and we have the Nanaimo Ladysmith Public School staff to thank.

I know Teachers, support staff and students are looking forward to summer after a full school year of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Accommodating both in-person and online learning teachers and support staff were absolutely remarkable in their care and commitment to keeping our children safe throughout this pandemic. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

Our principals and vice-principals, exempt staff, and our NLPS Emergency Operations Committee understood the importance of keeping students in the school and the benefits it would have on their mental health. They were tasked with maintaining health and safety measures and did so without fail. Thank you for your dedication and determination.

Thank you to all of the Vancouver Island Medical Health Officers for their guidance and support. A special thank you to Dr. Sandra Allison, Central Vancouver Island Region Medical Health Officer, who was unbelievably generous with her time leading Town Hall meetings and information sessions, as well as attending a number of school staff meetings. Her enduring commitment and unwavering support to the students and staff of NLPS will not be forgotten.

I am honoured to be the Superintendent of a District with such a dedicated Board of Education and such compassionate, devoted and skilled staff.

To say that the pandemic has changed all of us is an understatement. It has changed everything about us – the way we work, live, interact and learn. Most students will be OK coming out of the pandemic, but many will not. Some may experience long term psychological effects. Many haven’t stepped inside a school building for 16 months and for some that transition back to in-class instruction will be difficult. Loneliness, fear, anxiety and depression are all “pandemics” that have been running parallel to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coping with post pandemic stress, fear and worry is real and the work to ensure that we have safe, caring and healthy learning and working environments that are inclusive of the diversity of our entire learning community has never been more important.

To our graduates, congratulations! I hope you take the time to recognize your achievement and celebrate what you were able to accomplish during an extraordinary time of your life. You have shown incredible resilience. I also hope that you will look back on your years in the district and remember the many staff members that helped shape who you are today and who you will become. I became a biology teacher because of a high school teacher I had by the name of Tom Hutton. I am forever grateful.

If you are planning to attend university in the fall, starting a new job or planning a staycation, I want to wish you all the very best this summer break. For those students returning in September, it looks like we will be one step closer to the type of school year we experienced before COVID-19. I am hopeful the case counts continue to fall as vaccination rates continue to rise. Let us all do our part to ensure this trend continues.

In closing, it is important to acknowledge it has been an extraordinary year for many reasons. I know we are all sad beyond belief at the recent and horrific discovery of the hundreds of children buried in unmarked graves in both Kamloops and Marieval Indian Residential Schools.  As a school district we are committed to take action, to share their stories and their truths and with our Indigenous relatives, find true healing for those impacted by the Indian Residential School system.

As Canada Day approaches, please think about our Indigenous relatives and the devastating and far-reaching impact that Indian Residential Schools continue to have on Indigenous communities. This Canada Day whatever you do, take time to reflect on the history and plight of Indigenous peoples in Canada and think about who we are as a country today, and who we want to be in the future.

Hay ch q’a

Enjoy and stay safe!

Scott Saywell
Superintendent and CEO