'What a year this has been' for New West schools

And just like that, it was over.

New Westminster school trustees have wrapped up their 2019/20 school year – a year that kicked off much like any other back in September and came to a close in a midst of a global pandemic in June.

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Along the way, the school district has overseen a shift from regular in-class learning to remote learning to a hybrid model that saw some students return part-time to class in June while others kept learning from home.

 “My goodness, what a year this has been,” said board chair Anita Ansari at the final meeting of the year, held June 23 via Webex. “We as a district showed up for our community and our students in ways we never considered that we could or we had to before. I really want to thank our staff, who stretched themselves thin making it through COVID, and doing it very gracefully, and with such dedication and finesse that you would think they pandemic train all the time. ...

“They did such a really good job keeping student needs in mind, keeping community needs in mind, and I’m deeply appreciative that we have a staff that is so capable and so caring.”

Ansari said the district continued to prove how “nimble” it is in its response to change, coping with COVID at the same time as continuing the business of the district and overseeing a couple of major construction projects (Richard McBride Elementary School, where excavation is now underway; and New Westminster Secondary School, where the projected opening date has been pushed back due to construction delays stemming from COVID-19).

“We started building a school. We got stuck building another school, but we’re building it still through a pandemic. We started up anti-racism discussions. We closed out a really big inclusive education investigation to see where we are. We did a lot of soul-searching this year, and we also did a lot of really, really amazing work,” Ansari said.

Offering up her gratitude to staff, Ansari joked:  “I hope we have a really boring year next year, you guys, like a really, really boring one.”

Other trustees echoed Ansari’s gratitude to staff.

“You’ve gone over and above to make our schools safe and secure for our students,” said trustee Dee Beattie. “I hope you can take the summer to recharge your batteries and have some time for yourself and get ready for September, which will be busy for you again.”

Trustee Maya Russell, who had been on a two-month leave of absence dealing with a family medical emergency, offered up her thanks to her colleagues on the board

“I just wanted to say my thanks to the board for all of those who soldiered on and continued this work despite the really difficult COVID situation and people having their own jobs additionally, and families and homeschooling and everything. I just really appreciate that and look forward to the year ahead. “

The New Westminster school board will start meeting again in September, although the schedule and meeting format has yet to be decided.

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