Volunteers are important to a school community, and during COVID, their presence is sorely missed in the classroom.
Principal of Greentree School, Shelley Friesen, explains since the pandemic hit, there have been no in-class volunteers. There are, however, volunteers that have continually stepped up even under the restrictions.
“This year we are able to have some parents in. We are able to have our breakfast program, so they come in and help fill supplies and do a hot lunch a couple of times a week and deliver them to classrooms,” she said. “But they aren’t allowed in the classrooms, and that is where we are really missing them.”
She says some teachers and volunteers are still working together, sending activities and work for them to do at home, such as marking, organizing, and art prep. She says volunteers contribute to the entire school culture.
“It is a community that gets built. The culture of the school becomes more than just education,” said Friesen. “Having parents and volunteers in the school, students see and experience different adults and how the community cares about them.”
Principal of St. Anthony’s School, JoAnne Akerboom, says the school is missing the contributions of volunteers.
“We look forward to a time when our parents and community can once again be a regular part of our school day and after-school activities. Our volunteers have added significantly to our school, in terms of supporting teachers in the classroom and extra-curricular activities. Some of the things our students really miss are the coaches for sports, the jazz band after school, the craft club, making chocolates in the classroom, hotdog BBQ, pancake breakfast, etc. The list goes on and on,” said Akerboom.
She adds while volunteers are not able to be in the classrooms, there is still lots of work being done.
“We have been fortunate to have a few parents continue to volunteer through zoom, in supporting our students and school. Our parent council has continued this year with monthly meetings that include presentations on the priorities of the school, monthly updates from the Principal, Chair of Parent Council, President of the Friends of St. Anthony’s, President of Student Council, and the Chair of Parish Council,” she said. “This group has been instrumental in helping provide input into the direction of the school and inviting all parents to be actively involved.”
Curtis LaPierre, principal of Drumheller Valley Secondary School says they are missing the day-to-day presence of volunteers as well.
“In terms of external volunteers coming into the building in terms of supporting sports and that kind of stuff, they are non-existent simply because of COVID,” he said.
He said graduates were required to perform 30 hours of community service, and this has become a difficult task as many organizations are also under restrictions due to COVID.
“I have the grads doing the workbook associated with volunteerism just so they have the foundational understanding of the role it plays in the community, the province, and nation. Whatever hours they have completed since Grade 10, even if it’s 5 or 10 hours we’ll recognize it,” he said.
LaPierre says signs of volunteers remain all over the school.
When you walk through this school you can see the footprints of volunteers all over the place. When you walk into the gymnasium you can look at the bleachers, the score clock or the weight room equipment, or if you go outside to the tennis courts and the basketball courts, not to mention Kaleidoscope Theatre … Those are physical things, but behind all those physical things is time and effort and commitment.”