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All schools will welcome back students on Sept. 1

Saskatoon Public Schools will begin the 2020-21 school year before the Labour Day weekend with the first day of classes for students in both elementary and high school scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.

In June, the provincial government announced that in-class learning for prekindergarten to Grade 12 students will resume at the start of the new school year. This means students are expected to return to our schools on Sept. 1. The government also provided health guidelines for returning to in-class learning that establish expectations for proper hand hygiene practices, limiting physical contact, encouraging physical distancing, limiting shared materials, and increased cleaning and sanitizing.

The guidelines may be updated depending on the impact of COVID-19 over the summer and contingency plans will be in place in the event of an elevated risk of transmission, both regionally and provincially. Saskatoon Public Schools is currently planning for mandatory curricular learning in the fall with all students returning to school full time.

Throughout the summer, school division staff will be collaborating on plans for how to make schools as safe as possible for the return of students on Sept. 1. Ahead of the school start date, families will receive information from the school division and their schools about any new guidelines and procedures that will be in place for the return to school.

The 2020-21 school calendar represents a total of 195 days with a minimum of 950 hours of instruction for students. It includes a 16-day winter break around Christmas and New Year's Day, a nine-day break in February that includes the Family Day holiday and a 10-day spring break in conjunction with the Easter long weekend. The final day of classes for high school students will be June 23, 2021, while the final day for elementary students is June 24.

Key dates in the calendar are:

  • First day of School: Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020
  • Winter Break: Last day of classes is Friday, Dec. 18, 2020; classes resume Monday, Jan. 4, 2021
  • February Break: Last day of classes is Friday, Feb. 12, 2021; classes resume Monday, Feb. 22, 2021
  • Spring Break: Last day of classes is Thursday, April 1, 2021; classes resume Monday, April 12, 2021
  • Last day for high school students: Wednesday, June 23, 2021
  • Last day for elementary students: Thursday, June 24, 2021
Drabble, Rodney J. (Rod)6/29/2020 3:10 PM
Saskatoon Board of Education passes 2020-21 budget

Budget1 540x420.jpgWith a focus on maintaining class sizes and addressing students' needs, the Saskatoon Board of Education passed its budget for the 2020-21 academic year at its meeting held June 16. The budget includes expenses of $278.3 million, an increase of $6.6 million over last year.

Provincial government funding increased 3.7 per cent ($8.3 million or $85/student) for the year but this amount does not allow the school division to address projected enrolment growth and inflation for operating costs. The board will draw $2 million from operating reserves to help address the $4.2-million funding shortfall.

"While we faced a serious disruption to student learning this year, our overall enrollment and the number of students with special and complex needs both continued to grow without pause," said Board Chair Colleen MacPherson. "This budget maintains our focus on the classroom and supports for students, but our division's growing demands are far outpacing provincial funding. Our board will continue to lobby for the resources our students need to be successful."

The budget includes several staff additions to address enrolment growth and student needs, including:

  • 29 FTE (full-time equivalent) teaching positions;
  • 40 FTE educational assistant positions;
  • 2 FTE caretaking staff positions;
  • 1 FTE secretary position;
  • 1 FTE electronics repair technician position; and,
  • 1 FTE cafeteria worker position.

The budget will support the division's strategic plan, which will enter its second year. The increase of 29 teacher positions will allow class size ratios to remain at the same levels as in previous years. The hiring of 40 additional educational assistants represents a 10 per cent increase of staff in the position and reflects the need to support our most vulnerable learners.

In addition to the draw on reserves, the budget includes the following reductions to address the shortfall:

  • 5 FTE teachers from discretionary staffing positions;
  • 5 FTE English as an Additional Language teachers (3.5 FTE from elementary, 1.5 FTE from secondary);
  • 1.8 FTE positions from Central Office;
  • Non-salary budgets across the division have been reduced, including school budgets by 10 per cent; and,
  • Facilities operating budget lines have been reduced.

There will be no layoffs as a result of the reductions; all impacted staff will be reassigned.

Drabble, Rodney J. (Rod)6/17/2020 8:29 AM
W芒hk么htowin chosen as new name for Confederation Park School

confedrenaming_news.jpgFollowing extensive community collaboration and direction, the Board of Education approved W芒hk么htowin as the new name for Confederation Park Community School at its meeting on June 16.

Through a traditional naming ceremony that followed appropriate Cree culture protocol, W芒hk么htowin (pronounced Wah-KOH-toh-win) was chosen. The word is a N锚hiyaw (Cree) word that means "relations/relationships/being related". The word is often used to describe kinship.

"The word W芒hk么htowin in the Cree language has multiple meanings and ways of understanding," said Confederation Park Principal Pete Chief. "This reflects the work we do, not only in our division with our strategic plan, but most importantly the everyday work we do at Confederation Park School."

Confederation Park is the home of the school division's N锚hiy芒wiwin Cree Language and Culture Program. When the program celebrated its 10th anniversary in the spring of 2016, the initial conversation about renaming the school began. From there, the school assembled elders to guide the process, who advised that traditional Cree protocols be followed due to the importance of the name change.

According to the elders and knowledge keepers that conducted the naming ceremony, the new name can be used to describe how all school community members are related and connected through their participation in the daily life of school. The new name invites students, staff, and parents be a part of the school learning community that is defined by the importance of relationships. Following the naming ceremony, the proposed name came to the board for adoption.

"Our board is proud to approve this name change, which is a wonderful example of one of our schools being responsive to its community," said Board Chair Colleen MacPherson. "W芒hk么htowin captures what we want our schools to be for our students and families 鈥 a place where relationship comes first."

The new name, W芒hk么htowin School, will be in place in September for the start of the next academic year. Due to gathering restrictions, a celebration cannot be held with the school community at this time but is expected to be planned sometime in the new school year.

Drabble, Rodney J. (Rod)6/16/2020 6:19 PM
A Message for Parents & Caregivers

barry.jpgIn light of recent events across North America, we acknowledge the impact this is having on our students, families, and staff members, especially those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. Racism takes many forms and actions. In every instance, it must be condemned. These powerful protests calling attention to historical and systemic racism raise questions about the role of education and how our schools reflect our society. In response, we would like to reiterate the values of Saskatoon Public Schools and the conscious steps we take to move our community towards equality.

Our school division is open to all. In our schools, we strive to ensure that every student is known, valued, and believed in. Education is our business, but it is also our purpose. During turbulent times, we know the way forward is through education. Lessons about race, social injustice, and respect have long been taught in our classrooms, starting with our youngest learners. We have expanded our citizenship education to help more students develop their own moral compass and empower them to take a stand in their world. Our school division has encouraged the growth of our teachers and staff to explore anti-racist, anti-oppressive practices. We have pledged to build a more respectful, inclusive community. Our work is ongoing and growing.

In addition to lessons in school, here are some resources you can use at home for age-appropriate discussions with your children:

Child Mind Institute 鈥 Racism and Violence: How to Help Kids Handle the News

Teaching Tolerance - Beyond the Golden Rule: Parent's Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice

Common Sense Media 鈥 Resources about Race and Racism

Let's Talk About Race (video appropriate for young students)

Canadian Race Relations Foundation

Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan 鈥 Anti-Racism 101

Thank you for your continued understanding and support as we work together to eliminate racism in our society.

Baker, Veronica6/9/2020 9:21 AM