Horizon School Division and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools are coordinating supports for students and staff as they return to school after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6.
The message was clear, says Horizon School Division Director of Education Kevin Garinger: you are not alone.
Garinger, as well as Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Director of Education Greg Chatlain held a joint press conference on April 10, which was the first day back in school for Humboldt’s four schools.
Fifty counsellors and 90 staff are in place to help Horizon and Saskatoon students deal with this tragedy.
Every student, from Kindergarten to grade 12, will have different needs and a different relationship with the Humboldt Broncos.
For some, says Garinger, they were their heroes. For others, they were brothers and family.
Efforts to address the needs of these students are being “coordinated through and among Horizon administrators, our traumatic events response team, counselling staff, Saskatchewan health, Saskatoon Fire Department, Partners Family
Services, and supports from other school divisions in the province, including and coordinated by the deputy minister of education.”
Horizon and the Greater Saskatoon Public Schools announced on April 8 that school would be cancelled for the Humboldt Schools on April 9 but support was available for students, families, and staff at an off site location.
“For Horizon Schools, (April 9) was a day for our staff to receive direct support from trauma experts and have adequate time to prepare for the return of our students (on April 10),” says Garinger.
For the 39 other schools in Horizon School Division, classes resumed as normal on April 9, says Garinger, and support will be provided on an as needed basis.
“We are a tight knit school division, region, and province. We recognize that this is certainly a provincial, national, and even a globally traumatic event.”
The staff and students are in great hands, says Garinger, and everyone is going to deal with the situation differently.
“Getting back to a new normal is something very critical to our children and our families and all of us, but that is going to take time. Everybody is going to deal with that in a different way.”
Chatlain says that while the situation is going to be more difficult for other students, many students wanted to go back to school today and be with their friends.
“Our work is to try and be there to provide various pathways for these children to try and make their way back.”
The mood was sad and sombre, he says, speaking about a visit to Humboldt Collegiate Institute on April 10 morning, but the students wanted to be together and will begin to deal with this together.
“That’s the first step in the many steps of this journey.”