The Alberta Education Act s.45(8) notes that “a Board shall ensure that each student enrolled in a school operated by the board is provided with a safe and caring environment that fosters and maintains respectful and responsible behaviours.”
Parkland School Division is committed to Student Success and Well-Being. The Division recognizes that, as a system, well-being must be present for all stakeholders, and therefore is committed to fostering physical literacy, life-long health and well-being at all levels. The Division believes that student success is closely linked to student well-being and the development of social-emotional assets that build resiliency. Students may experience well-being as a product of social success.
Our students shared wellness concerns with the Board during our March, 2021 Student Advisory session. Students discussed the challenges that the pandemic has created for sports and activities, as well as the psychological challenges of limited interaction and the impact that social distancing and other restrictions has had on interpersonal relationships. It is clear that wellness is recognized as a major area for focus for staff and students during the pandemic and, for a variety of reasons, it is expected that this concern will remain as we emerge from this significant event.
Given the wellness challenges, our students noted that it would be beneficial to advertise counselling services that may be available. They noted that, for some students, it may be uncomfortable to go to a counsellor because they may not be ready to discuss matters with their parents. Our students discussed the challenge of wellness and wondered how school staff might help with guidance to resolve these concerns. Our students are vocal that they are tired of the ongoing pandemic and are hopeful that it will soon be over.
It is important to note that the challenges and struggles did not emerge as the major focus for our Student Advisory Team. What emerged, instead, is that our students are deepening their skills for resilience, finding ways to connect, and maintaining their focus for learning to the best of their abilities. Our students are doing their best to thrive in the face of ongoing adversity.
Parkland School Division schools will continue to explore research and initiatives aimed at increasing student wellness. For instance, the Alberta Healthy School Community Wellness Fund – a joint initiative between the University of Alberta, Alberta Health, and Alberta Education – provides assistance to schools through its resource: the Developing Healthy School Communities Handbook. The resource notes that “a healthy school community embeds a culture of wellness for the entire school community using a comprehensive school health framework to create an inclusive, collaborative and connected environment (p. 1.2)”
Wellness in Parkland School Division exists as a priority. Our future planning for education continues to consider how best to achieve this aspect of our Ultimate Goal.