Some good did come out of that catastrophe. We developed a public health system in Canada with the creation of the federal Department of Health in 1919 — this established a partnership between the various levels of government and made public health a joint responsibility in which government played an essential role.
So, here we are today — just over 100 years since that last pandemic enveloped the world — and a new virus called COVID-19 is wreaking havoc. As of April 13, 2020 there were 1.7 million identified cases in the world and over 111,000 deaths directly attributable to it.
But we are in a different time in 2020 — a time where we have incredible, instantaneous communication capabilities (think internet, social media, cell phones and cable TV) and a global coordinating health authority called the WHO (World Health Organization) that is leading the charge on a number of fronts:
- Creating a ‘road map’ to success so that we can beat COVID-19;
- Accelerating and coordinating research from various labs around the world on treatments, medicines and vaccines;
- Providing global advice on minimizing the spread of the virus.
And, locally here in Canada we also have an amazing team of doctors and researchers including the remarkable Dr. Bonnie Henry (BC Provincial Health Officer) who has gained national prominence for her calm, deliberate and timely advice on how we need to respond as a collective.
We WILL come out of this pandemic. I have no doubt of that.
We will beat this virus because we have the collective wisdom and fortitude to work together as a coordinated force. We are already doing the community wide necessities of social distancing, staying at home instead of making trips into town for errands and, most importantly, we are washing our hands. Pretty simple things — but powerful things. We hear the wisdom of the experts and we’re heeding their advice.
What about in the Saanich School District?
From an educational lens, we have moved quickly and creatively as we enter this new normal. I hear stories of teachers and schools doing remarkable things to reconnect with their students — from individualized learning opportunities for their most complex learners, to phone calls home letting them know they are missed and cared about, to developing brand new digital platforms to learn within. We are innovating like I’ve never seen before in my career – all because we know it’s the right thing to do and our students are counting on us to be successful. Here’s a few more things that are underway in our district:
- Building electronic learning resource sites for students, teachers and parents;
- Liaising with our community partners to provide additional mental health supports and even food for those families who are in most need;
- Distributing mobile computers to families who are without a suitable device for learning;
- Supporting our essential service worker community by providing child learning centers in some of our elementary schools;
- … to name a few
With this much positive energy and momentum this virus doesn’t stand a chance. We have the technology, the communication, the world-wide coordination and the community buy-in to get this done.
On a local level we are engaging in what it means to be part of The Saanich Way. We are united — we are people first — and we are determined.
We will come out of this stronger than before because we have come together — every day, every minute.
We’re going to be OK.
We’ve got this!