Pasqua First Nation (Best Practices for Covid 19)
Posted on June 12, 2023
Maureen Johns is the Director of Education for the Pasqua First Nation. She shared a story that reflected the philosophy and approach that Pasqua First Nation used to develop its Return to School plan. In her story, she likened the COVID-19 to a tiger, a scary saber-toothed tiger. Children were told to stay inside until someone caught the tiger and put it in a cage. But after 170 days, unable to contain the virus, the need was to develop a plan that would empower the children and community so that they did not live in fear. This was based on an Elder of the Pasqua First Nation telling her: “we have choices regarding COVID-19 – we can be afraid of it or we can respect it.”
She presented the framework that Pasqua First Nation developed as part of its return to school plans. The framework is based on a holistic approach – mental, emotional, physical, spiritual. It comes from a place of strength, mental development and respect. Part of the plan is to reassure everyone that safety is a priority. Cloth masks will be provided to all students and they will be colour coded to identify grades and groups. Employment contracts are flexible so to allow for online learning and a blended approach. Physical fitness is also an important component to their plan.
The relationship with the parents is also critical and many parents have not traditionally been involved in the school. The pandemic has allowed the parents to come back and be an important part of their children’s learning. Dedicated staff have been placed to work with parents to coach them on basic things like setting up a study corner, making up a study schedule as well as helping parents who want to help their children with their homework. This new relationship between the school and the parents is very important.
Lastly, the spiritual development in the plan, builds on trust and nurturing and the importance of respect over fear. There are people from different spiritual traditions in the community, but they all share the same core values of caring about the children.