Leadership During a Storm

As I sit here writing this post it’s been 6 weeks (42 days) since the announcement came from the provincial government that all in-class instruction in our schools was being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If I’m being completely honest … it feels like its been closer to 6 months. The information onslaught, video-conference calls and numerous educational changes have been relentless. Changes that include:

  • from how we were doing school to an UNFAMILIAR way of teaching, learning and assessing;
  • feeling UNSETTLED about not knowing what comes next;
  • increased levels of ANXIETY among many in our community.

We’re Going to be OK

I have never experienced anything remotely similar to this pandemic in my lifetime. When I look back in time I can find The Spanish Flu epidemic from 1918-1920. It was devasting in Canada and around the world. In our country an estimated 55,000 people died — most of them between the ages of 20-40. Interestingly, coming out of WW1 Canada lost a little more than 60,000 soldiers (1914-1918).

But, there isn’t anything more recent that resembles the world-wide pandemic we are currently living within.

Military hospital at Naden (Esquimalt, BC), c. 1919. Courtesy City of Victoria Archives

Why was the Spanish Flu so devastating? Several reasons have been mentioned (such as a lack of suitable drugs and communication), but the most significant cause was a lack of adequate quarantine measures. We also didn’t have very good coordination between the various health authorities across the country.

Sunshine in a Time of Crisis

Spring Break 2020 – not the relaxing holiday I was anticipating.

March 17 – Minister Rob Fleming

On March 17th the provincial government announced that all in-class instruction was being suspended indefinitely throughout BC. School districts were suddenly being tasked with turning our primarily face-to-face teaching paradigm on its head — to move everyone into a virtual teaching platform by the end of Spring Break.

To be clear — we were not being asked to move the entire district to an on-line platform. We were not creating a system of on-line teachers and learners. We were being tasked with creating remote learning during a crisis.

There’s a difference.