Bluefield Family of Schools District Advisory Council

Members for 2020-21: Amanda Doherty-Kirby (Bluefield High), Cailin Deacon (Central Queens Elementary), Melissa Rommens (East Wiltshire Intermediate), Angela Campbell (Eliot River Elementary), Rosanne MacFarlane (Englewood Consolidated and Bluefield PEIHSF Regional Director), Stephanie Arnold (Gulf Shore Consolidated), Jacinta Andrews (Westwood Primary), Jill Coffin (Bluefield Teacher), Neleah Lavoie (Bluefield Student), Alex Clow (Bluefield Student)

February 25, 2021, Web Ex

Discussion and Outcomes

Input for the Provincial School Board Model 

  • The DAC discussed the contents of their shared document to determine what to share at their school board model consultation meeting. 
  • Some points to consider in the new model:
    • Suitable number of elected trustees: one from each family of schools for the PSB (10) + 5 additional appointed positions (for BIPOC individuals)
      • Should also consider a youth advisory position.
    • Electoral districts: based on feeder area for each family of schools.
    • Election date: coincide with Provincial elections.
    • Method of voting: same methods offered for Provincial Elections voting process.
    • Candidate eligibility: Canadian citizen, 18 years of age, live in the district for which they will represent for a minimum of six months prior to election.
    • Increasing civic engagement: use of social media platforms. Candidates provide a paragraph about why they want to be a trustee.
    • Nomination process: What was the previous nomination process? References?
    • Methods to increase voter turnout: Use of social media platforms, should increase if voting for provincial election at same time.
  • Some questions to ask when creating the new model:
    • Will the government get rid of PSB trustees in the new structure? 
    • What decision-making power will trustees have?
    • Will trustees be paid positions?
    • Will the DACs still exist?
    • Should trustees need to be a parent with a child in the school system?
    • What can be done to increase voter turnout?
    • If school board elections take place with provincial elections, how will that work alongside appointed trustees? 
    • Could there be online voting?
    • How would the workload be divided between trustees that represent different sized of school families?
  • The DAC decided to use the questions from the school board model online survey to continue working on their shared document.

Student Investigation and Search - Policy Consultation 

  • The DAC compiled all their emails into one document to submit for the consultation.
  • The new policy is more robust and brings things up to date.
  • The DAC sees the benefits of having a written policy, especially for the younger grades. 
  • The DAC discussed section 4.2 of the policy, about discretion of when the police should be involved.
  • The DAC would like to see a commitment to training administrators and employees on the new policy with an equity/inclusion lens.
    • There needs to be training on unconscious bias, racism, and disabilities to help staff learn how to reflect on their decision-making and make sure no additional harm is done to students when determining whether to involve police. 
  • The DAC agreed that records should not be kept in a cumulative file for all to view, since this can propagate bias against a student.
  • Section 3.2 does not provide not clear guidance on how to define a credible source of information. There could be teacher and student bias in claims or decisions. 
    • In practice, action is taken based on a collaborative discussion.
    • The policy should define what credibility means.

Accessibility/Anti-Racism Discussion

  • There is a self-directed session being offered at the next professional development day about how to be an anti-racist teacher.
    • An update will be provided at the next DAC meeting.
    • The Engagement Officer will follow up to find someone to speak to the DAC about inclusion and diversity. 
  • Some schools within the Bluefield DAC are discussing racism and diversity with their students through black history month, leadership classes, and diversity week. 
    • These types of initiatives are largely driven by individual teachers.
  • The DAC is interested in equity, diversity and inclusion work within broader provincial government.
    • The Engagement Officer will follow up with the PSC to determine how this might be taking place, and whether the Department of Education is involved.
    • Member of the DAC will check on individual school initiatives and ask the following questions:
      • 1. Have there been any initiatives around diversity and inclusion at your school? 
      • 2. What has worked well and what hasn't worked well?
      •  3. What accommodations would you like to see in your school to ensure everyone has equitable access to education?
      • 4. What mental health resources would you like to see in your school?
    • The DAC will start a google doc and add to it for a discussion at the next DAC meeting. 
  • There needs to be more consideration of students with health conditions in schools.
    • Online learning could be a piece of this, as long as students have access to internet.
    • Technology needs to be provided if student doesn’t have it.
    • Need to think about kids who have supports in schools, how will they receive those supports if schools shut down again? 
    • The Engagement Officer will ask about plans for how EAs will support students if schools were to be shut down again due to COVID. 
  • There is a need to identify the barriers to make sure that everyone has equal access to education.

Update on Counselor Ratios/Positions and Joint Resolution

  • UPDATE “All but one school in the Bluefield Family to date has received additional counseling time from the new 13 FTE.  The new FTE was added to current counselors in the schools who were not counseling full-time.  The only school as of today that didn't receive any of the new counseling FTE is Gulf Shore in the Bluefield Family.”
    • The Engagement Officer will follow up and ask whether the 13 FTE incudes other positions such as youth workers and autism support counselors. 
    • Members of the DAC will follow up with each of their schools to see what supports they received.
  • The DAC will start a draft joint resolution in a shared document to present to the other DACs.

February 9, 2021, Bluefield High School Cafeteria

Meeting chair: Cailin Deacon

Guests: Amanda Petrie, Team Lead, Student Wellbeing Team Bluefield Family of Schools, Chris Noseworthy, MSW SWT Social Worker

Discussion and Outcomes

Student Well Being Presentation

  • Amanda Petrie and Chris Noseworthy gave a presentation about the SWT’s work in the Bluefield family of schools.
  • They talked about how early intervention provides better outcomes for kids and teenagers.
  • There are multidisciplinary SWTs in all 7 families of schools.
    • Phase 1 2017: Westisle and Montague Family of Schools pilot.
    • Phase 2 2018: Colonel Gray, Souris, Morell, and Bluefield Family of Schools.
    • Phase 3 2019: Charlottetown Rural, Kinkora and Kensington, and Three Oaks Family of Schools.
  • SWTs consist of registered nurses, social workers, outreach workers, occupational therapists, and provincial supervisors in health, education, justice, and occupational therapy.
    • There are 7 members on the Bluefield SWT.
  • SWTs collaborate with a number of partners.
  • The vision of SWTs is: “Supporting Island children and their families to be the best they can be.”
  • Guiding principles for SWTs are child centeredness, easy access to services, early intervention, and collaboration.
  • SWTs hold formal one on one meetings, group interventions, brief interventions, and educational opportunities.
  • Referrals received 
    • 2018-2019 – 573 referrals
    • 2019-2020 – 914 referrals
    • 2020-21 (Sept-Dec) - 426 referrals
    • These numbers do not include parent or school group sessions or presentations/health promotion activities.
    • 106 referrals were received from September 2020 to January 2021 for Bluefield Family.
    • There are 7 groups currently running in 6 different schools within the Bluefield Family.
  • Parent/student required to sign a consent form upon initiation of the service to enable information sharing between the 3 departments when appropriate and in the best interest of the student/parent.
  • Referral process: Referral created -> forwarded to team lead and school counselor -> team lead gathers intake information -> triage and assignment -> consent for services obtained.
    • Parents can choose whether to go through the school counselor or use the referral process. Either way the parent/student will be directed to the right service. 
  • Anyone can make a referral using the online system. 
  • SWTs connect with students in schools, at home, in the community, and at  after-school programs.
  • Changes with regards to the pandemic: 
    • The impacts of the pandemic depend on vulnerability factors such as pre-existing mental health conditions and educational status.
    • There have been mixed reactions to COVID from students, some students are struggling while others are excelling.
    • The SWT finds is more difficult to find spaces to work in.  It can be challenging to read facial expressions during one-on-ones with students while individuals are wearing a mask.  Facilitating group sessions while maintaining separation for cohorts can be a challenge.
    • There has been an increase in school refusal and more requests for online learning.
    • There has been an increase in separation anxiety.
    • Zoom for Health is being used by SWTs for sessions with students.
  • What can parents do
    • Talk with students about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and assess its potential relationship to their current mental health.
    • Complete a referral for their children if they have any concerns about their children’s mental health.
    • Early intervention may prevent long-term mental health consequences from this COVID-19 pandemic.

These points were made in the following discussion:

  • The number of members on SWTs at each family of schools are based on school population size. 
    • The DAC could advocate for inclusion of other factors such as poverty level in determining these numbers.
  • There were evaluations of the SWTs in year 1 and year 2. SWT staff, principals and teachers completed these evaluations. Families were not included in those evaluations, but this is a priority for future evaluations. 
  • SWTs work with K-12 students (no preschool).
  • Currently, there is a wait time for service with the Bluefield SWT.
    • The DAC would like to advocate for additional staff for SWTs, but needs more information about where to advocate, since the money for SWTs comes from Education, Justice, and Health.
  • There are different levels of intervention along a continuum, leading to different possibilities for services.
  • Presentations in classrooms could be viewed as early intervention. Sessions include internet safety, managing emotions, social skills groups.
  • SWTs attend all student services school meetings at all 7 schools in the Bluefield Family. 
    • There are 1-2 members at Bluefield High School at any given time. 
    • SWTs spend more time at bigger schools because there are more students. 
    • SWTs try to make connections with administrators and counselors in the schools on each visit.
    • The referral process ensures students at all schools receive the services they require.
    • Anyone under age of 12 needs parental consent, which can limit the presence of SWTs in younger grades.
  • Information sharing is on a need to know basis. SWTs make sure that the parent/student knows what information is going to be shared. 
    • If any information puts a student or someone else at risk, SWTs will always share this information. 
    • Clinical judgement used case by case, to determine what is beneficial to the student. 
  • The online referral system uses a triage system, with higher risk cases addressed more quickly.
  • There is no position on the SWTs that works specifically with parents or families. 
    • The DAC could advocate for a family outreach worker to work with families in the younger schools. The Bluefield SWT spoke to Standing Committee about this need.
  • SWTs can occasionally pick up students for transportation to and from school. They focus more on working with the family so that they can take their own child to school or find a solution. 
  • Students can drop by the SWT office any time and give their perspective on their work. The team is open to ideas from students and collaboration.
  • Early intervention is especially important at the junior high level when students are beginning to understand mental health.
  • Awareness of SWTs is still an issue.
    • SWTs just launched Twitter, Instagram and Facebook account. 
    • Collaboration with student councils could help.
    • Presentations about SWTs could be given later in the year.
    • A partnership with peer helpers at East Wiltshire could be developed.
  • The SWT team is not culturally diverse.
    • It was suggested that SWTs could connect with community groups, to provide a community navigator as a resource for students and families.

Round Table Sharing of Home and School Priorities

  • East Wiltshire parents are happy with the SWT and connections they are making within the school. 
  • Westwood parents are happy with the crosswalk. However there needs to be more awareness about traffic safety and for cars to slow down in the area. 
    • Westwood is also working on fundraising for their playground fund.
  • Central Queens is working on how to fundraise during COVID. 
    • The Home and School is working on activities for teacher appreciation week, which is a challenge with COVID. 
    • People have been told to reach out to the DAC with their feedback on the Student Investigation and Search Policy.
  • Elliot River has confirmed funding for renovations and expansion of the school. The tender will be going out in the spring.
    • There are plans for an elevator to be installed, along with work on the school’s ventilation system.
    • There have been ongoing transportation issues with lighting and sharing property with Town of Cornwall.
    • Extra cleaning staff from COVID has been on a month-to-month contract. They are hoping these contracts can be confirmed to the end of the school year.

Update on the Home and School Resolution on Counselors

  • There was a resolution put forward by the Home and School Federation a few years ago about changing the ratio for counselors. The Department did not change the ratio at this time. 
    • UPDATE: As of last year all schools had at least a 50% counselor which for some schools is over the ratio. There is still a shortage of counselors Canada wide so PSB is undertaking a recruitment strategy to address our shortage.
  • The team decided to wait instead of rushing to meet the Home and School Federation deadline for resolutions.
    • The team decided to try and understand problem more deeply so they can frame the issue differently.
    • The DAC would like to develop a broader resolution about this issue.
  • Considerations for the resolution:
    • Presentations to the Economic Welfare Committee take place in the spring about specialist positions in the schools.
    • Increasing access to psych assessments.
    • Where did the 13 new counselor positions go?
      • UPDATE: All but one school in the Bluefield Family to date has received additional counseling time from the new 13 FTE.  The new FTE was added to current counselors in the schools who were not counseling full-time.  
    • Having 0.4 and 0.6 counselor positions at schools based on student population is not ideal. Need to account for travel time related to the position, and higher turn-over meaning less consistent relationships with students and schools.
    • Staff allocation should not be based just on numbers, but other factors such as poverty, etc.
    • The DAC would like to determine whether there is a better way to define ratio.
      • This might involve looking at other jurisdictions that use different methods that could work here.
    • The DAC would like to create a resolution collectively with other DACs who share the same concerns.
      • The Engagement Officer will share a draft with the other DACs to see if they are interested in providing feedback and submitting a joint resolution to advocate together.
    • Access Open Minds has some good resources on youth mental health.
  • The DAC is very interested in meeting with the Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning later this year if there is an opportunity.

December 2, 2020, WebEx Meeting

Meeting chair: Stephanie Arnold

Discussion and Outcomes


Follow up from Legislative Assembly Presentation

  • The DAC spoke about three priorities: transportation, mental health, and loss of learning. The DAC would have also spoken about support staff issues that some schools are facing if they had known about this issue sooner. 
  • The Standing Committee on Education and Economic Growth would like to thank the Bluefield DAC for the presentation and all the work went into it. The Committee will have a work plan meeting in the New Year to discuss where their priorities are going forward and to build off the work that was done this fall.

Round Table Sharing of Home and School Priorities

  • Westwood 
    • Their Home and School meeting was cancelled. 
    • They would like more information on the family outreach support position to be added to the Student well-being team.
      • UPDATE: This position unfortunately was not approved by the budgetary process.
    • The lack of support for speech therapy is a concern. 
    • If COVID were to increase on the Island, they would like to see schools closed as a last resort.
  • Elliot River
    • Their Home and School meeting was cancelled.
    • They would like more details on 4.3 million on capital repairs 
    • The elevator and accessibility issues have not been addressed yet. They plan to escalate this issue if it is not addressed soon.
  • Gulf Shore 
    • Had 2-3 meetings so far.
    • Discussed using the leadership grant application for an anti-racism initiative. The deadline is Dec 11 for the grant.
  • Bluefield did not have their Home and School meeting. 
  • East Wiltshire brought up racism and accessibility as topics to carry forward.

Concerns to be Carried Forward

  • Transportation 
    • The crosswalk at Westwood Primary was painted, crossing lights were added, and there are now more students walking to school.
    • Gulf Shore is hoping they will see a paved shoulder next year.
    • 15 extra bus drivers have been hired.
    • It would be good to check and make sure that the bus planner is consistent with the information held by the schools.
    • Transportation can be looked at again by the DAC in the spring.
  • Mental health
    • There is a tendency to see the Student Well-Being Teams more at high school levels than elementary levels.
    • A family outreach position is needed at the elementary levels.
    • Survey results from PEITF found some difficulties at the start of the year, but that teachers seem to be doing well overall.  
      • This issue needs to stay on the forefront, as some teachers are still struggling.
      • There are psychological supports for teachers (i.e. Starling Minds through the PEITF), but some teachers may need support from elsewhere.
      • There was training on mental health for teachers at the beginning of the school year.
    • All schools at the Junior High level have students moving from class to class now. This helps students pay attention more and creates less stress for teachers. 
    • Having masks on all day at the high school level has been harder on teachers and students.
    • PATHS program and mental health
      • There are two schools using PATHS. Other schools can choose which resource to use for mental health. There are no plans to roll it out in all schools at this time.
    • There are a number of students at Englewood with significant mental health issues, and a part-time counselor is unable to meet these needs.
    • A CBC article says there are 34 schools without a full time counsellor
    • The DAC would like to take the position that there should be a minimum of one full-time counsellor per school
      • Three DAC members agreed to work together on a Home and School resolution to support this.
    • The Engagement Officer will check to see how many of the 13 new counsellors will address the gap in the Bluefield Family of Schools.
      • UPDATE: This work is not yet finalized thus we do not yet have details to share. The PSB is working hard to make those determinations and will communicate with schools soon.
    • The DAC discussed how allocation of guidance counsellors is determined.
      • The Minister’s Directive outlines this requirement, and it is up to the principals to determine how these positions are allocated within their schools.
      •  Small allocation budgets have led to increased stress for teachers especially around duty (which COVID has exacerbated)
    • The Engagement Officer will look into the formula to determine how allocation of guidance counsellors is determined
    • Student Well-Being Teams
      • There is a need to communicate and promote the services available from these teams to students and parents.
      • There is also a need to reduce stigma around seeing a counselor or youth worker
      • The DAC will check with school administrators and students to see how the school relationships with these teams are going, and determine if there are any consistent themes or gaps.
      • The Engagement Officer will see if the Student Well-Being Team for the Bluefield family of schools is available to speak at the next DAC meeting.
  • Loss of learning
    • The DAC would like to know how the government is supporting remote learning for the students that are isolating in Charlottetown due to the positive COVID case. 
    • Parents want to see the contingency plans for what happens if there is a COVID case in a school, including how quickly remote learning is put in place. 
      • They would also like to know whether individual school plans determine how testing and isolation proceeds in each school if there is a positive case, or if the Department of Education or PSB has a plan that determines how this will proceed in all schools.
    • The Engagement Officer will check with Charlottetown DAC on how remote learning is going.
    • The DAC would like to take the position that if there is an increase in COVID cases on the Island that schools close as a last resort.

September 24, 2020, WebEx Meeting

Guest: John Cummings, Executive Director, Department of Education and Lifelong Learning


Discussion and Outcomes

Working Together 

  • The Engagement Officer will continue to develop the meeting agenda and organize DAC meetings, bring forward concerns raised by other DACs, and help elevate concerns to create a coordinated response.
  • The DAC will use the chat feature to establish order of speaking in virtual meetings. The person wanting to speak next will add a question mark to the group chat, and the engagement officer will invite individuals to speak in that order.
  • A member from the DAC will act as the meeting chair on a rotating basis.

DAC Overview

Anne Rooban, Engagement Officer for the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning, gave an overview presentation on the role of the DACs.

  • Mandate of the DACs is to help shape an education system that is focused on and meets the needs of learners. The role of DACs is:
    •  to advise the Minister of Education on educational priorities for the District;
    • to engage school communities in discussions;
    • to foster collaboration among school councils, home and school associations and the community.
  • Responsibilities of membership: 
    • Report concerns of your local Home and School to the DAC; 
    • Provide leadership in identifying priorities to focus on;
    • Work collaboratively with members;
    • Report back to your local Home and School the discussions and outcomes of DAC meetings.

These points were made in the following discussion:

  • The Bluefield DAC webpage needs to be updated for the 2020/21 school year.
  • The main DAC page needs to be updated to include the role of teachers on the DACs. 
  • The Department encourages DACs to focus on cross-school topics. Issues specific to schools can be noted in minutes, brought as a concern to the Department or PSB, and addressed outside of the DAC meeting.
  • The DAC will carry on as it did in the past. There is potential for a school governance review at some point.
  • DACs do make an impact on the school system, and movement on bigger issues has been seen in the past.

School Operational Plans

  • Transportation at the schools in the Bluefield DAC have improved
  •  Communication
    • The wrong times for transportation are being provided to parents new to the portal system, and parents have to call the schools to get the correct information.
    • The school is unable to access the information in the online portal that parents are accessing.
  • Safety issues for active transport
    • People are driving too fast at crosswalks.
    • Kids are having difficulty getting past the roundabouts in Cornwall.

These points were raised in the following discussion:

  • Home and School meetings can be held in schools provided they take place after the regular school day and provided they can meet the guidelines.  
  • Directives in other jurisdictions have changed so that more than one symptom is required for individuals to be barred from attendance. Is this something PSB is looking into?
    • UPDATE: Yes, the PSB is in constant communication and collaboration with CPHO around the questions and pressure points identified by schools, parents and communities.  As CPHO determines new or different direction, the PSB will communicate with schools.
  • Parents would like more clarity and communication on the school contingency plans. They would like more information about the plan details.
  • Parents would like to see more standardization in terms of the process required when they keep kids home due to illness. Clear expectations would help ensure everyone experiences the same process.
  • Teachers now have modified curriculum and are using google classroom. If a student is missing extended time, student referral teams are putting plans in place for that student.

PEI Assembly Submission

  • The Bluefield DAC is developing a document to present to the PEI Assembly. 
  • The three core issues of focus are:
    • Loss of learning;
    • Transportation;
    • Mental health (for staff and students)
  • This presentation was supposed to take place this Tuesday. It will be postponed to at least the second week of October so that DAC members can gather additional feedback from their Home and School Associations.
  • The DAC will continue to work on their Assembly submission through Google Docs.

Topics for Discussion for the Upcoming School Year

  • Ongoing implementation of school operation plans for COVID. 
  • Transportation.
  • Loss of learning.
  • Mental health for students and teachers.
  • Making the PE education system anti-racist.
    • The DAC would like to explore the possibility of using parent leadership grants through Home and School as part of its approach to address this topic.
  • Accessibility issues. 
    • There are significant issues at Eliot river school. 
    • The Engagement Officer will raise the issue of accessibility with the other DACs.
  • School cleanliness. 
    • This was a topic two years ago relating to the calculations for janitor staff required for primary schools being the same as for middle and high schools.
    • There was discussion about putting this to a resolution but it didn’t happen.
  • Topics brought up at Home and School meetings will be added to DAC topics for discussion.

 

Previous School Years

2015-16 School Year

2016-17 School Year 

2017-18 School Year

2018-19 School Year

 

Published date: 
December 10, 2020
Education and Lifelong Learning

General Inquiries

Department of Education and Lifelong Learning
Holman Centre
Suite 101, 250 Water Street
Summerside, PE C1N 1B6

Phone: 902-438-4130
Fax: 902-438-4062

DeptELL@gov.pe.ca