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Ormstown Elementary keeps its head up

When Premier Francois Legault suddenly ordered on Friday, March 13, the closure of all schools in the province of Quebec, it impacted about one million students and teachers in 3,200 public and private schools. The growing threat of the novel coronavirus loomed and the government needed to limit opportunities for the virus to spread. “I understand that today’s announcement will have a significant effect on a lot of parents,” Legault stated, “but this is a measure we have to take.”

As at many schools, Ormstown Elementary’s staff and students were stunned. Many had left the building on Friday thinking that they would be back on the following Monday. Schoolbooks and personal belongings were left behind. The initial decree from the government called for a two-week closure, but it was soon followed by an announcement extending the shutdowns until at least May 1.

 

O.E.S. staff and students in 2018. PHOTO Yvonne Lewis Langlois

 

After the initial shock had worn off, Ormstown Elementary staff began to mobilize, holding online meetings to discuss how to support both students and parents. Principal Joanne Henrico posted a message on the school’s website informing parents that they could reach out to the school via her email. She also assembled photos and messages from all staff members to produce a video to students and parents. The video, set to Andy Grammer’s song “[You’ve Got to] Keep Your Head Up,” showed staff accompanied by family and pets with homemade signs sending uplifting messages to students, along with some suggestions on how they could spend their time. The final message from Ms. Henrico said: “Know that you are missed.” Posted on YouTube, the video soon got more than 1,400 hits.

Parents and students responded with a video of their own, set to Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” showing students reading, writing and taking part in home activities.

The Ministry of Education has placed no demands on teachers to provide formal online lessons nor for parents to take on the responsibility of home schooling. Nevertheless, Ormstown Elementary staff reached out to all their students with phone calls asking how they could support both students and parents in this difficult time. Posted on the school’s website are lists of free online learning resources in both English and French. The school’s website states, “There is no expectation at this time that schoolwork be completed by our students.” With that being said, it’s extremely difficult for the staff to see the school year go by. The OES team is now working on grade-specific learning challenges that their students can work on independently at home. The final message from the Ormstown Elementary staff to students: “Learn something new and be ready to tell us about it.”

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1 Comment

Ann Tessier 2020-04-08 at 12:25

Great article…I love reading Yvonne’s stories, they are always so encouraging and uplifting. We all need to hear things like this with all the sad news around right now. It helps to remind us how good we have it in the Valley and how lucky we are to be surrounded with such amazing people!

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