The first day back to school has always been an occasion full of excitement and anxiety. This year should be no different after the last two school years affected by COVID-19
Education Minister Dustin Duncan officially kicked off the upcoming school year Tuesday afternoon at St. Jerome School in Regina, by launching their back to school social media campaign. Students. teachers and families are encouraged to share their back to school photos using the hashtag #WelcomeBackSask.
Duncan says schools across the province are in a better position this year, thanks to vaccinations. “We’re going into our third school year where COVID will have some impact. I look back to last September at this time, we were going into a school year last year there were no vaccinations, we had limited tools that were available, I recall many voices out there who were saying, that it was unsafe to return in person a year ago. Our school divisons, our staff, our kids and familiesdid an incredible job last year where in school transmission was relatively low. We have other tools now that weren’t available last year at this time, and that’s vaccinations. We have hundreds of thousands of people that are fully vaccinated or one dose, and number of students, thousands of students that are eligble that have vaccinations.”
Duncan noted one of the Ministry of Education’s goals this year is to improve Mental Health Aid for students. One thing they are pledging, is the intention to have at least one staff member at each school to be fully trained in Mental Health first aid.
The Education minister believes a return to classrooms will be a big boost for student’s mental health. “I think for a lot of kids just seeing there friends is going to be great for their mental health, kind of back getting into a routine. We want to be there, to provide that support whether it be through the mental health first aid dollars we have available or the Kids Help Phone support or other supports that we have in the system.”
The provincial government also announced they would be providing 225,000 dollars to the Kids Help Phone over the next three years.