While some students participate in year-round schooling and have been in the classroom for a few weeks, the first day of school for many students and teachers is quickly approaching. I am pleased to welcome back all the students and teachers who are returning and give a warm welcome to those who will be joining us for the first time. I hope you had the chance to rest, relax and recharge over the summer and are ready for an exciting and productive school year.
I am truly thankful for everyone’s collaborative efforts in providing a safe and healthy learning environment, particularly over the last 2 years, and I look forward to a smooth return to in-person instruction. We remain committed to ensuring the health and safety of staff and students. As we head into the school year, I encourage all students and staff to continue exercising regular personal hygiene and staying home when not feeling well. As I have said in the past, it is important that individual family choices continue to be respected related to masking and vaccination. No student or staff member should be stigmatized for their choices.
While the last couple of years have taught us resilience and perseverance, we understand the impacts COVID-19 has had on our young learners’ education and mental well-being. We are committed to ensuring our students feel connected and supported in their academic and mental health needs. Alberta’s government is pleased to commit $110 million over 3 years to improve mental health services, provide specialized assessments from qualified therapists and psychologists, and help students get their learning back on track after the pandemic. This is in addition to the over $1.4 billion in Learning Supports Funding provided directly to school authorities each year. This funding envelope includes the Specialized Learning Supports (SLS) grant, the Nutrition grant and Program Unit Funding (PUF), which support student mental health, specialized assessments and allow school authorities to provide supports to students and staff.
I sincerely appreciate all of the teachers, support staff, school boards, administrators and parents who work tirelessly throughout the school year to prepare students for success and ensure they have the proper supports. Your efforts are both noticed and appreciated.
The school year ahead holds tremendous potential and opportunities for students and educators alike. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and what we continue to work towards – improving education and supporting young Albertans. I wish everyone a happy, healthy and successful 2022/2023 school year!