Since March, only a limited number of people have been allowed to enter the halls of Belmont Secondary with one group of individuals serving as the main point of contact between parents, students and the school – custodial staff.
Partnering with two educational assistants and a library clerk, the custodial staff made it their priority to support parents and students in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They’ve been focused on ensuring the school [was] ready to go for when we welcomed students back but more so, all of these people have been the face of Belmont,” said Jim Lamond, principal of Belmont Secondary. “Who would have thought we’d have to hit an educational restart button? But in essence, that’s what happened and our staff were asked to change their practice in an instant.”
Lamond said their ability to change on a dime has been “pretty amazing.”
Their work started with a roll out of retrieving technology for students who may not have access to it.
The school issued 68 laptops over a week and the custodial staff and educational assistants were the handoff point.
They were also front and centre when it came to distributing musical instruments for those who may not have brought them home over spring break and needed them for classes.
Next, came the large task of emptying lockers so students and parents could collect personal belongings. Systematically, staff went through 1,300 lockers and bagged, tagged and organized the contents for pickup.
Parents have been able to book appointments for students to pick up their belongings, with staff serving as the main point of contact again.
The hallways at Belmont Secondary have changed while students were gone with added measures to maintain physical distancing and sanitation for the safety of everyone.
Belmont’s library clerk returned to work early as part of the school’s joint occupational health and safety committee to prepare the school before students and staff returned.
Custodial staff and educational assistants have also been part of this process.
While their jobs have been behind-the-scenes for the most part, Lamond said they deserve recognition because they have been “incredible, caring, welcoming and sensitive” as they shifted their roles to support parents and students.
“They’re here for our kids, they’re here for our families and they’re here for our staff,” Lamond said.
“They have, in essence, been experiencing everything first and they’ve done it with grace, class and care.”