The 2020-21 school year
COVID-19 started during Spring Break of the 2019-20 school year, and was a major factor for all of the 2020-21 school year. At Hugh Boyd, our school remained very safe (we had remarkably low exposure notices sent home and very few students tested positive in our area). Our staff and students did an excellent job of following the Provicial Health directives: they wore their masks, kept their distance in the hallways, washed their hands and did all the little things that made a big difference this past year.
This news was very positive at Hugh Boyd, but we recognize that many of the efforts we took placed significant pressure on our community. Despite these pressures and the sacrifices that were made (senior students were in class with only half of their peers and had half the time with their teachers as in a normal year and no students had extra-curricular opportunities), our students met with significant academic success this year.
In considering the evidence from this year, three things really stood out:
- Our failure rate was lower than it has been in years and our Honours numbers were better than previous years
- less than 3% of our marks were Incomplete or Fail-lower than the 5-6% averages of recent years
- 64.6% of all students made the Honour Roll (better than 5 average for Grade 8-10 students or better than 80% average for Grade 11-12 students)
- 34.2% of all students made the Principal's List of Distinction (better than 6 average for Grade 8-10 students or better than 90% average for Grade 11-12 students)
- Attendance was very strong
- despite having to stay home in self-isolation if students or family members had been exposed to someone with COVID, students very rarely missed classtime if they were able to be at school
- attendance rates were better than 95% this year
- Misbehaviour and discipline interactions were remarkably low
- student discipline issues were lower than they have been in recent years as students were incredibly respectful, cooperative and compliant with our requests to wear masks and treat each other with kindness and respect
One of the strategies to minimize infection spread and allow for schools to utilize a cohorting system was to go to the Quarter system whereby students took only two classes at a time for ten weeks. This was a radical change from the Linear system (eight classes all year long) for both our students and our staff, but we believe it played a role in our improved success rates and attendance. As such, the district has intiated all high schools going to the Semester model for the 2021-22 school year. This means that all students will have 4 classes each day for half the year and then will get 4 new classes for the second half of the year starting in February. We are hoping that balancing fewer classes will help our students stay organized and lead to continued success next year.
We also need to commend our staff for the efforts they made to adapt to having senior students present for only half the time, and for the efforts they made to keep workload reasonable while still covering significant amounts of important content. There is no doubt that our staff was incredibly empathic and compassionate, considering all of the pressures and tremedous unknowns that were facing our students and our entire community. We will need to continue to be mindful of these pressures as we return to something closer to normal next year.
One thing we will not have next year that was in place before the pandemic is Personal Learning Time. Our staff has chosen not to return to this structure for the 2021-22 school year, but will be discussing how we could bring it back in subsequent years. We do see tremendous value in the mechanism of providing students with some ownership of their learning, but didn't feel that having PLT at the start of the day was an effective use of classtime. Please stay tuned for more information on how this support may be reintroduced in coming years.