It is my sincere hope that you enjoyed some well-earned rest this summer, and have recharged your batteries for a return to the vital and important work of running your schools.
In recent years, the term ‘unprecedented’ has, unfortunately, become part of our vocabulary, mostly due to the impact of the pandemic on so many aspects of society, including our work in education.
While many of us enjoyed the warm and sunny spring and summer weather this year, it has brought new levels of ‘unprecedented’ activity to the province. The mild winter and dry spring, combined with recent hot dry winds, has created conditions for drought, water restrictions, and the rapid spread of wildfires in BC and other parts of the country. It has been a period of unpredictable weather and wildfire challenges, from the atmospheric river in the Fraser Valley almost two years ago, to the flash floods earlier this year in Cache Creek, to the evacuation of Tumbler Ridge due to fires last spring, to the current explosive wildfire situation in many communities.
The range and extent of the damage, and the number of people evacuated, on alert, or otherwise directly impacted, is all unprecedented. These are our friends, neighbours, family members, and colleagues. Those of us in parts of the province that have not been impacted by flooding, smoke, or wildfires feel extremely fortunate.
Last September, the community of Hudson’s Hope (SD60 - Peace River North) was evacuated due to wildfires, and the start of school was delayed. This may be the reality for other communities this September. I have conveyed our concerns to the Ministry of Education and Child Care officials about the impact that evacuations may have on the school start-up, with the direct physical impact on schools, homes, and community structures, and the scattering of evacuated families – including our members, their staffs, and students – to temporary housing in neighbouring communities. Our Ministry colleagues have expressed their deepest sympathy as we all await further developments.
While next week is typically focused on start-up issues – filling postings, orientations for new staff and students, welcoming new families, preparing school for Opening Day – this year, in the affected regions of BC and beyond, people are holding their collective breath. We are all indebted to the firefighters and first responders as they battle against the elements to save homes and communities. We will be living under this uncertainty in the coming weeks, hoping for cooler weather and watching for rain on the horizon.
The BCPVPA is closely monitoring the provincial situation and receiving regular updates from the Ministry. If we can help in any way, please reach out.
Everyone’s safety and well-being is paramount and is the priority.