I hope that you and your families are healthy and doing well. I want to thank all of our students, families and staff members for their flexibility, patience and perseverance during the school closures. We understand that the pandemic is creating challenges and hardships, and we will continue to prioritize and do our very best to support the well-being, learning and achievement of our students during these difficult times.
There are resources on the Board website that students and families may find helpful, including tips for speaking with your child about COVID-19, support using technology, community and mental health resources and more at www.yrdsb.ca/school-reopening.
One of our priorities as a Board of Trustees is to Champion Equity and Inclusivity: we aim to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to remove barriers in support of all learners.
We want each and every one of our students to know that they are valued, welcome, safe and respected in our schools. We know that sadly that is not the reality for some students and that incidents of anti-Black racism continue to occur in our community and our schools. These incidents cause pain, make our students feel unsafe and affect their well-being and achievement. This is not acceptable.
In the coming weeks, we will be sharing information and inviting you to participate in the Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy: Creating anti-racist and Black affirming learning and working environments virtual event. During this event we will be unveiling our Anti-Black Racism Strategy, which was developed in coordination with families, students, community partners, educators and members of our senior leadership team. The strategy was developed in response to continued evidence of anti-Black racism, and it will be a critical tool to support positive change in the system and to improve the experiences of Black students and staff.
A series of training sessions, webinars and opportunities for learning will also be made available. Future communication will provide registration options.
I want to thank the members of the Anti-Black Racism Committee for generously giving their time, sharing their difficult experiences and their voice. We are committed to ensuring that this strategy is more than a piece of paper and are committed to doing the work to create more equitable learning environments.
I also want to acknowledge that February is Black History Month, and while we take this opportunity to highlight and celebrate the incredible contributions made by Black Canadians, we will also be looking forward to launching our Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy. We will also be continuing our celebration of Black excellence in our community and I encourage you to take the time to read the stories of some of the inspiring individuals learning and working here in York Region.
We all have a role to play in creating a community that enables everyone in it to thrive, and in doing this work, we will create a more inclusive and positive environment for all of our students and families.
Trustee, Markham Ward 1 – Vaughan Ward 5