Valley Journal Advertiser

New year, fresh slate


This month marks a new school year for students, instructor­s and staff across Atlantic Canada. As indicated by the term “a fresh slate” — literally derived from new school supplies for the beginning of the year — every one of us can greet the week after Labour Day as a new beginning with fresh possibilit­ies.

There will no doubt be missteps as everyone navigates their new routines, but unless the mistakes threaten people’s safety, we should all greet this new year with patience — a virtue that has been lacking recently.

There will be challenges.

Parents in Conception Bay South left last school year dissatisfi­ed that the government was taking their concerns seriously about their junior high school’s rodent, mould and overcrowdi­ng issues.

In Nova Scotia, 1,860 educationa­l assistants and support staff spent five weeks on strike last spring before ratifying an agreement many said they still weren’t happy with and came away feeling undervalue­d.

contentiou­s New Brunswick’s school year begins with a new policy requiring parents’ permission to use the preferred pronouns and names of trans and non-binary students — a requiremen­t the province’s child and youth and advocate found violates the children’s Charter of Rights.

Post-secondary students, in particular, are desperatel­y looking for a place to stay, even as classes begin. A Reddit user in Halifax was asking anyone if they could recommend a place where they could pitch a tent, while Memorial University faculty were reacting negatively to being asked to house students in their spare rooms.

These serious issues, along with a skyrocketi­ng cost of living, labour shortages and continued fallout from extreme weather across the region, are weighing heavily on families struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy as the school year begins.

The P.E.I. government has acknowledg­ed rising costs and is once again providing free school supplies to all students from kindergart­en to Grade 9 in the public-school system. This $980,800 investment will be a huge help to many families.

Then there is the knowledge that the return to class is always accompanie­d by cold, flu and Covid season as everyone crams together inside once again.

On Aug. 29, Canada confirmed its first case of the BA.2.86 COVID-19 variant, while some health experts say there is an increasing wave of the Omicron subvariant EG.5. That could mean measures like masking, and all the accompanyi­ng vitriol, will be in the public arena again.

There is no denying there are real issues facing all of us this school year and government­s must be accountabl­e for decisions that impact Atlantic Canadians’ health and safety.

For the smaller hiccups that will inevitably occur, though, let’s extend the benefit of doubt to the human beings who are going through the same trials we are as another year begins.

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