Morell / Souris Family of Schools District Advisory Council
Members for 2020-21: Shara Kenny (Morell Consolidated), Michaela Oliver (Morell Consolidated Teacher), Nathan Jay (Mount Stewart Consolidated), Lynn Sherren (Souris Regional Teacher Rep), Brett Hughes (Morell Regional Student Rep), Mary Kendrick (Morell PEIHSF Regional Director)
Vacant: Morell Regional High, Souris Regional, Souris PEIHSF Regional Director, Souris Regional Student Reps
December 7, 2020, WebEx Meeting
Guests: Sterling Carruthers, School Health Specialist, Katelyn MacLean, School Food Project Manager, Steven Wilson, Project Coordinator
Discussion and Outcomes
Healthy School Food Program Presentation
- The team gave a history of the Healthy School Food Program, including the pilot program from Feb-June 2020 and COVID-19 Food Security Program that took place while schools were closed.
- They outlined the goals of the program
- Making healthy and affordable meal options available for all students
- Providing support to ensure equitable access for all students
- Providing food literacy opportunities for all students
- The pilot program has continued for the 2020-21 school year.
- The interim program started in September 2020. There are three models underway:
- In-house food service
- Food service by an external vendor using the Healthy School Food Program menu
- Food service by and internal/external vendor using their own menu
- About 115,000 meals were ordered in the first six meal periods.
- The Healthy School Food Program will transition to a non-profit organization in September 2021.
- This organization will continue to receive funding and support from the provincial government, but will rely on food sales and donations to operate.
- Successes include overall acceptance of the program, healthy and affordable meal options are available for all students, using local foods, ensuring equitable access, and supporting local vendors and the economy.
- Challenges include the short time line from program start to implementation, working with different vendors, and having the same menu across all communities.
- The team is developing a new menu for January.
- The team has received lots of feedback over the past months. They are hoping to incorporate this feedback into the new menu.
These points were made in the following discussion
- The vendor gets $5 per meal, plus a delivery charge of $5 per school per day, and 10 cents per meal, no matter what parents pay for the meal.
- Morell Consolidated and Mount Stewart have been having a very good experience with their vendor for the program.
- There has been a high participation rate (as high as 40% in one school) from the Morell and Souris Family of Schools.
- Spaghetti, shepherds pie and burgers have been popular menu items. The autumn salad and greek salad are not.
- Gluten free options will continue to be offered.
- The program is working to ensure that, when possible, compostable containers will be used for meals.
- Containers being used are recyclable, but the recycler on PEI does not have a market for #5 black plastic.
- The company producing the containers is now making white containers that can be recycled. They will be on the Island in the new year.
- The program has been promoting a bring your own cutlery program with more promotion starting in the new year.
- People are re-using the containers at home.
- PEI School Food program Inc. is a brand new non-profit that will be applying for charity status. Four board members have been selected.
Review of key topics from Home and School/Student Council meetings
- The DAC would like to highlight that poor rural internet service could lead to inequity in learning if students need to switch to online learning due to COVID.
- Students in the high school can take school Chromebooks home.
- Students can use the school internet from the school parking lot, however this is not a solution that would work for all students or families if students needed to switch to online learning.
- The Student Well-Being Team hosted sessions about how families can support students through COVID.
- It is unfortunate that more parents do not come out to these type of presentations.
- UPDATE: These events were advertised by the schools on their websites. Presentations took place at Mount Stewart Consolidated on September 2, and at Morell Consolidated on September 3. The event at Souris Regional was canceled because it was not posted by the school in time, and could not be rescheduled due to COVID 19 protocols.
- The Student Well-Being Teams have also presented to the schools.
- The Student Well-Being Team for Morell and Souris is not operating at fully capacity. They are hoping to hire another position in December.
- A member of the RCMP recently made a presentation at Mount Stewart Consolidated School to students about child exploitation on the internet.
- It would be great if the DAC could host something to build awareness and help parents learn the importance of monitoring their children’s online presence.
October 7, 2020, WebEx Meeting
Guest: John Cummings, Executive Director, Department of Education and Lifelong Learning
Discussion and Outcomes
- The Engagement Officer will continue to develop the meeting agenda and chair and organize DAC meetings.
- The DAC would like to have more direction from the Public School Branch and Department of Education and Lifelong Learning on what their role is.
- Are there specific topics that the DAC should focus on, or should the DAC focus on specific school and community needs?
- The DAC would like to meet four times a year.
- The DAC would like to have a mix of online and in-person meetings.
- The DAC would like the Minister to attend at least one meeting this year.
- The DAC would like the Department to consider per diems to members for their participation.
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.
School operational plans
- The school operational plans are working well at the schools. Students are adapting quickly, wearing their masks and sanitizing computers and desks.
- The busses are crowded and it is hard to maintain physical distancing as a result.
- Managing a classroom while maintaining physical distancing is not feasible in classrooms.
- Teachers’ schedules have been adjusted to require extra time in the morning and afternoon to accommodate operational plans in some instances.
- Will rules around masks be relaxed at some point (outside of busses, and during sports)?
- UPDATE: Masks are likely to be required well into the future.
Topics for discussion
- Remote learning
- It would be good to improve remote learning in case things shut down again due to COVID. Expectations will be higher now than they were in the spring.
- Topic include devices in homes, internet access, access to high-speed, virtual classrooms and meetings with teachers.
- Important to consider the impact on parents and families (i.e. work, mental health).
- How teachers can help support parents and students with remote learning.
- School preparedness.
- Kindergarten students coming into the school system are not prepared (this includes academic as well as fine and gross motor skills)
- Pre-Kindergarten could be a part of the solution. A program for the next school year is being developed by the department.
- Community education sessions could support parents and families.
- Parent involvement
- There are few parents involved in the school community.
- Need to improve communication with parents so they are aware of supports available.
- Public health could be involved in this as a partnership.
- Identify the community’s greatest need, and find some programming to address that need.
- Offer non-judgmental programs that everyone can benefit from.