End of year for FFSD brings praise for staff, students, families, but uncertainty over future

For the Flin Flon School Division (FFSD) board of trustees, the 2020-21 school year ended the same way it started - not being sure of what comes next.

The reason why that feeling is present now is far different than why it was there at the start of the school year. Back in September, COVID-19 had not yet begun its second or third waves in Manitoba and no local schools had seen even a single case. Fast-forward to the summer and all four of the division’s facilities have reported at least one COVID-19 case, with students and staff heading into remote learning at different points. Despite a challenging school year, trustees and the superintendent praised this year’s graduating class, as well as students and parents.

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“To all of our students, staff and parents – we know how challenging of a year this has been and want to extend our sincerest thank you – we appreciate the flexibility this year has required. It has certainly been a school year that no one will forget. It is our greatest hope that next year will look more ‘normal,’” reads the report from FFSD superintendent Tammy Ballantyne.

“As this is our last meeting before the summer holidays – we want to wish you a wonderful summer filled with many great days that will make amazing memories.”

Board chair Murray Skeavington echoed that sentiment, thanking school staff, administrators, students, parents and fellow trustees for making it through the school year.

“This school year, many changes happened for our staff and school administrators,” he said.

“During this unprecedented school year, you once again proved why we have the best division in the province as you continue to adapt at how and where you teach your students. We cannot say enough about this, but please accept our ready thank yous. Let’s hope next year becomes a little bit more stable.”

While COVID-19 cases are slowly falling off and vaccination rates are rising, another spectre has appeared - this time, in the form of Bill 64, a set of vast reforms proposed by the provincial government to change education and administration in Manitoba. One of the main changes of Bill 64, if it is enacted, will be consolidating all Manitoba school districts - including the FFSD - and ending all elected boards, like the board of trustees.

The changes will not go into effect until next school year at the earliest and the board has no plans to meet again before the start of the next school year, but if anything new develops with the bill or with COVID-19, another meeting is not out of the question.

“As of right now, no. I think if the situation calls for it, we would, but as of right now, Manitoba Education has announced that some time in August, they will let us know where we’re going to be, whether it’s orange, yellow or something else,” said Skeavington.

“As of right now, we don’t plan on meeting over the summer.”

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