Building Community During COVID-19

It is amazing to see how well we have managed as a community during a pandemic. It appears that more and more families are coming to terms with the new reality that we face, and one that is likely to continue for quite some time. Yet, despite the challenges this virus continues to raise for our society we find ways that we can adapt to still provide some sense of normalcy for families.

Halloween serves as a great example. This is a time many children look forward to, and staff are making every effort to ensure certain traditions continue. I made a visit to Belmont Elementary school where staff had arranged to bring the pumpkin patch to the school since a field trip was no longer an option. I could not help but smile as primary students made their way out to the field to choose their favourite pumpkin. In addition, staff will also find ways for students to still come to school in costume and organize other events to keep the Halloween spirit alive.

StrongStart sites have also made an incredible effort to open and support families. There is a registration system in place to keep numbers manageable and extra measures established to keep the facility clean. In addition, staff have organized time to access outdoor spaces for families to enjoy. StrongStart provides so much valuable information for families, and opportunities for children and adults to connect – way to go to our staff have ensured this program continues to operate!

Parent teacher conferences have also been re-organized to align with these times. Parents can access staff remotely through Teams to have conversations about their child’s progress. COVID does not mean we cannot stay connected. Face-to-face meetings can also be safely arranged where technology is problematic.

Remembrance Day ceremonies will also look different this year. However, once again as a community we will find ways to honour the service of our veterans combining both limited physical interactions along with virtual presentations. It is simply too important a day to let COVID sideline us from marking this occasion with the dignity it deserves.

Furthermore, many businesses in the community have responded to the pandemic in creative ways in order to still keep their doors open. Online sales, expanding into grocery and meal delivery, developing new products and services provide excellent examples to the innovative ways business have responded to this crisis. These serve as great lessons for our students to be resilient, adaptable, and innovative when facing setbacks in life.

It is examples like the ones I have mentioned that give me hope with respect to our community’s ability to not only manage during this challenge but to continue to thrive while facing this adversity. Even charities have found ways to still connect with donors to make sure supports are still provided for those in need – the Thank You for Caring Christmas Tea (formerly the Mayors’ Wives Tea) and the Langley School District Foundation are just two examples. It is important that our community also remain adaptable, resilient, innovative and supportive of others while following Bonny Henry’s message to “be kind, be calm, and be safe.”

Gord Stewart