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Highlights: Board meeting of September 27, 2021

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The Vancouver School Board held its first meeting of the school year on Monday, September 2021. The meeting’s agenda included receipt of committee reports from the Finance Committee and the Student Learning and Well-Being Committee, as well as housekeeping business and consideration of a motion to extend the mask mandate to include students in Kindergarten to Grade 3. 

Watch the recording of the meeting. 

Chair Remarks Board Chair, Carmen Cho, began the meeting with opening remarks noting several priority items currently before the Board early this school year. She encouraged students, their families and staff to participate in the engagement initiative to help the Board develop the District’s new Education Plan. She also shared details about plans throughout the District to mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Additionally, Chair Cho shared the Board’s gratitude for superintendent Hoffman years of service to students learning at the District and welcomed Jan Unwin as interim superintendent while the Board continues its search for a new superintendent. 

Superintendent Update

Following the Board Chair’s opening remarks, superintendent Suzanne Hoffman presented an update to the Board. The update, her last while in the role of superintendent, included details about the start-up of school with a focus on health and safety measures in place at schools. Superintendent Hoffman informed the Board about the provision of supplies to schools, including hand sanitizer and reusable masks. She also shared details about upgrades to school ventilation systems and mask wearing compliance. Additionally, superintendent Hoffman also explained how school-based staff are supporting students’ mental well-being as the pandemic continues, highlighting that a sense of connection for students and educators is an important aspect of this social-emotional learning.  

Student trustee report

The Board also welcomed student trustee Ricky Huang who returns to the role for a second term. Student trustee Huang provided an update to the Board, noting that secondary students are both excited and a little apprehensive about the return to full time in-person learning this school year. He also informed the Board that students are consistently wearing masks, and many – including members of the Vancouver District Student Council (VDSC) – have actively encouraged their peers and others to become fully vaccinated. Student trustee Huang also shared details about VDSC’s plans this school year, including early steps for the annual CANley Cup – a district-wide event to raise non-perishable foods and money for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.  

Decisions by the Board

The Board then considered several motions from matters arising from committee meetings including adopting the audited financial statements and approval of the annual Framework for Enhanced Student Learning Report. Each year, the Ministry of Education requires the District to submit the report which looks at results from various standardized grade K-12 assessments to determine the intellectual, human and social, and career development outcomes among students. The Board also approved a motion that the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) sub-committee use the discussion from the Student Learning and Well-Being Committee to formulate further recommendations to the Board at its meeting in November.

The Board then considered motions to amend Board policies Board Policy 8 (Board Committees) and Policy 20 (Disposal of Land or Improvements). These amendments update the policies to reflect motions previously passed by the Board, as housekeeping items. 

The final matter considered by the Board was a motion to extend the mask mandate to students in Kindergarten to Grade 3. Since the beginning of this school year all staff and students in grades 4 to 12 are required to wear a mask while at school, per public health direction. The motion was passed unanimously. During debate of the motion, trustees heard that the exemptions as they exist for older students would also apply to younger learners. District staff have observed that the majority of younger learners have been wearing masks voluntarily and school-based staff use inclusive approaches to encourage students to do so. School staff also work with students to help them to properly put on masks, remove them and store them, in addition to other things to help keep everyone healthy like proper hand-hygiene and respiratory etiquette. 

Keep up to date with all of the District’s committee and Board meetings; see the calendar for meeting dates, agendas and livestream links. All recordings of past meetings are housed on the District’s YouTube channel. 

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