Surrey school board trustee Garry Thind has asked the superintendent and district staff to consult with the community about the safety and well-being of students. He made the request at the board’s regular meeting Wednesday (Jan. 11), after scores of parents showed up at both the December and Jan. 11 meetings.
“In the light of recent events including the pandemic and concerns around student safety and well-being, the board of education would like to engage the community to identify areas of concern and work together to address issues of importance to create positive social change,” Thind said at the meeting.
“I would like to move the board of education direct the superintendent and staff to engage in community consultation on student safety and well-being and they report back to board the common themes that rise from the consultation.”
After a fatal stabbing at Tamanawis Secondary in December, there were many local parents who were concerned, he noted.
He made the notice of motion in order to hear everyone’s concerns within the school district, Thind said, including safety concerns.
A reported 40 to 70 parents attended the December and January meetings.
“We want to listen to the community – not just one part of it but overall, throughout entire district – and also online – so all parents can give feedback,” Thind told Peace Arch News on Thursday, noting the online aspect is important, as many parents cannot attend meetings due to busy schedules.
Other issues that have arisen as concerns include COVID-19, students vaping in school bathrooms, whether uniforms should be used, and a more balanced school calendar.
In Maple Ridge, the school district is shortening the summer break to only a month and a half, he said, with the rest of required time off to be split up either between winter and spring break, or one of those breaks.
“We are asking the community at large, ‘How we can make the system better?’” Thind said.
At the meeting, he translated the motion, which the board passed unanimously, into Punjabi for the parents in attendance.
“To the community when the time comes for these sessions, please bring up all of your concerns – not just student safety,” he emphasized.