School's Cool a no-go this year
By Sue Tiffin
For six weeks each summer for the past 20 years, three-and-four-year-old residents of Haliburton County have experienced what their upcoming first days of school might be like at School’s Cool, a summer program run by SIRCH Community Services and the Trillium Lakelands District School Board that prepares children for kindergarten.
was cancelled only once in the past when it was short on funds. Last
week it was cancelled again due to the COVID-19 pandemic. About 30 to 40
kids, some whose parents signed up for the popular summer program in
January to ensure a spot, are affected by the cancellation.
“Well, we hoped that it wouldn’t have to be [cancelled], but there is a fair amount of preparatory work that has to happen - hiring instructors, pre-screening, and intakes with parents, organizing the six weeks, training and certifying the instructors - so the closer we came to June the more critical it was to make a decision,” said Gena Robertson, executive director of SIRCH. “We have always held the program in a kindergarten room, partially to familiarize children with the environment they will be entering in the fall, so when we heard the schools would remain closed, we made the decision to cancel.”
The announcement that both the Minden and Haliburton programs were cancelled was made on May 22 on social media, with a post on the SIRCH Community Services Facebook page noting that program administrators were “looking to see, as the summer progresses, whether there are ways we can help prepare preschoolers for kindergarten once we have an idea of how the Ministry of Education and the school board will be proceeding in the fall.”
What might that look like?
“We’re not sure yet,” said Robertson. “It really depends on whether small groups are allowed, on whether kids are back in school in September. This is still constantly evolving.”
While the program cancellation is disappointing for those preparing for the home-to-school transition in their lives, Robertson said support would still be available.
“We know how important preparation for entry to school is,” said Robertson. “We are in discussion with our local school board, and once the Ministry of Education has a framework available for the fall, we will see if there are other ways we can support preschoolers in the adjustment to school.”