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Please Note: Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, we are asking non-essential visitors to campus to cancel visits for the foreseeable future. Unless you are providing an essential service to the campus community, please do not come on to campus. The campus is closed to casual visitors, including those who may wish to park on campus to use nearby hiking trails, and others except for essential needs personnel.

May 15, 2020 – Joint Message from Anne McLellan and Ty Pile

MESSAGE FROM ANNE MCLELLAN

Dear Members of the Pearson Community,

On behalf of the Pearson College UWC Board of Directors, my best wishes to you and your loved ones in this time of unexpected disruption for all of us across Canada and around the world.

My Board colleagues and I have just completed two days of virtual meetings. The spring meetings of the Board are normally held on campus which gives all Directors a chance to meet and talk with students and to learn more about their often extraordinary and inspiring stories. Unfortunately, this year that was not possible, but we hope to be able to meet in person, on campus for our November meetings.

The spring meeting of the Board is also when we discuss the annual budget for the new fiscal year beginning 1 July. The continuing impact of the pandemic provided an increased sense of urgency and responsibility to discussions this year. As you know, the College has faced additional expenses related directly to ensuring the health and safety of students and employees alike, to converting to a fully online learning and teaching experience and to the loss of revenue-generating summer events which support both scholarships and the cost of operations.

Ty Pile and his leadership team, in consultation with the Executive Committee of the Board, have already made decisions to reduce expenses without compromising the College’s mission. With the campus closed and virtually no students onsite, only essential services are being provided. I know some of these decisions have raised concern, but all schools in the UWC movement are facing budget reductions while maintaining the core integrity of the UWC mission.

The College’s financial plan for 2020-21, which is still being finalized as authorities continue to advise on health and safety, is prudent and responsible. We are weighing factors like the extra measures that will need to be in place to safeguard students and employees in the new school year while giving due consideration to the unknowns related to international travel and changing border restrictions.

As Ty has said, the College team is working hard to prepare to welcome students in the fall. We are encouraged by the responsible manner in which Canada and British Columbia have dealt with COVID-19 and have every reason to expect that our campus will be open to deliver classes on site and virtually, if required. For at least the short term, this is how we will fulfill our responsibility to students and their families.

The UWC movement values resilience, among many other positive qualities and that is what we all need at this time to adapt and thrive through challenges and to move forward.

The Board is delighted that Pearson is close to finalizing a Reconciliation Action Plan that reflects the thoughts, comments and aspirations shared by numerous Indigenous voices as well as from others across our community. We know and respect that many at Pearson have established and nourished excellent relationships with the Scia’new First Nation and with Indigenous communities and individuals throughout British Columbia who have educated our students and generously shared their knowledge. These relationships will be complemented institutionally as the College moves forward with the implementation of our Reconciliation Action Plan. The plan, when finalized, will be made available on the Pearson College UWC website.

The Board also considered the work that is being done to strengthen Pearson’s many alumni voices of support and advice. We thank the volunteer Alumni Engagement Working Group and our Director of Alumni Relations Benoît Charlebois for their hard work and patience. The Board will be reaching out through a consultative survey to seek alumni input on how the College can serve their interests and, in turn, how alumni can offer their assistance in ensuring that generations of future students have the opportunity to access the Pearson UWC experience.

Finally, I know there is considerable interest in the search for a new President and Head of the College. I am pleased to say that we will share information about our new Head soon. He and his family will be on campus as of 1 August. I want to thank Christine Healy, Vice-Chair of the Board, who chaired the Selection Committee and the members of that Board committee, Brian PostonKory WilsonMike Stubbing and Gloria Metzger, for their assistance.

Ty continues to do amazing work during this unprecedented period in the College’s history and he will continue to guide the College with the Board’s full support until 1 August.

Warm wishes and good health to you and your families.

The Hon. Anne McLellan
Chair, Board of Directors
Pearson College UWC

MESSAGE FROM TY PILE

Dear Members of the Pearson Community,

Greetings again from the virtual campus of Pearson College UWC. As we come to the end of a most unusual and challenging 2019-20 school year, I have a chance to reflect upon the truly global community that we have become. With students learning in “Pearson” classrooms and labs now located in New Zealand dens, Finnish bedrooms, Colombian dining rooms and everywhere in between, we are tackling “global education” like we never have before.

While our current Years 45 and 46 students are looking forward to the official end of their school year, our faculty continue to come up with thoughtful and creative ways to share a genuinely impactful and engaging online learning and education experience. For example, later this month, in Pearson eNews, we’ll share one faculty member’s insight into how you teach a normally very hands-on and often outdoor-based Marine Sciences class virtually.

This year, like every year, our students never fail to amaze me not only with their resilience but also with their ingenuity and ambition to be positive changemakers even during times of disruption in their own lives and those of their families. Last week we heard about Year 45 student Beccah’s Halifax Helpers initiative, a volunteer-run online tutoring service offering free learning support for elementary and junior high school students in Nova Scotia who themselves are being home schooled during the pandemic.

But here’s the bonus – many of the other members of the Helpers team are students or recent graduates of Pearson! These young people, from Canada and countries across the globe, identified a gap, determined how they could help and acted quickly. If there was ever a good news story out of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is it. Congratulations to all those in the Pearson worldwide community who are also creating similar bright spots during this challenging time!

Here in the Province of British Columbia, we are hearing measured and cautiously optimistic news from Public Health officials such as Dr. Bonnie Henry and political leaders like Premier John Horgan. Last week, they laid out a strategy to restart various sectors including classroom-based learning in the public school system. Though Pearson is an independent school, we of course take guidance from health and government advice and directives.

While some public schools, subject to strict health protocols and continued reductions in community transmission of the virus, serving younger grades may offer limited openings late in May or June, our main focus is on the beginning of our 2020-21 academic year in late August. For Pearson incoming and returning students alike, I would like to reiterate that we have every intention of welcoming those who are able to come to campus at that time, subject to public health directives, protocols and regulations requiring those coming from other countries to self-isolate.

While we hope that many international travel restrictions will be lifted by then, we are nonetheless preparing to offer a blend of on-campus and online learning to ensure that all our students have access to a robust UWC education.

When classes do resume on campus, our obligation to all students and everyone on campus is to do our utmost to maintain a safe and healthy environment. This will undoubtedly mean changes to the way we teach in classrooms and labs, the way we interact at mealtimes and how we conduct our group and any community-based activities. It is impossible to predict which specific requirements will be mandatory in three months, but you can be certain of rigorous cleaning protocols, proper distancing in all learning, eating and informal settings, regular temperature checks and many other measures to safeguard everyone’s health. We are indeed fortunate that our campus is located in a beautiful 31-hectare forested setting that lends itself well to socially distant learning in uncrowded outdoor settings!

Students around the world are grappling with the emotional gap of not having graduation or ending ceremonies together to celebrate and reflect upon their shared experiences. Even as we celebrate their successes – our Universities Counsellor told us that, so far, more than 100 offers of scholarships from major North American, European and other international post-secondary institutions have been extended to our graduating class this year — I know our Year 45 students are feeling this too.

The last two weeks of May are normally a time of reflection, bay jumps and relief as the academic calendar and exams wind down. This year, there will be no on-campus leaving ceremony, no whispered pass-downs of knowledge, no wrenching goodbyes as the sun sets or rises above a grassy spot overlooking Pedder Bay. It’s difficult to replace those experiences but we are making final plans for virtual, as ‘traditional” as possible, year-end activities that will invite both year cohorts and their families to celebrate this extraordinary and unprecedented year together.

Early May is also normally the time of the annual on-campus Board meeting; an opportunity for directors to meet with students and to lead seminars with them to encourage students to gain a better understanding of the governance role of our volunteer Board of Directors from across Canada and around the world. I’m sure it comes as no surprise when I tell you that this year’s meetings were conducted entirely online.

These meetings were both uplifting and sobering. As I’ve said often, the resilience of everyone across the Pearson community sustains and supports us. Our College Directors are keenly aware of the multiple stories of students overcoming barriers to continuing their learning remotely and of the many individual and collective efforts by Pearson staff to get them home safely and of faculty to help see them through successfully to the end of their school years.

Two important items considered and ratified by the Board are inspiring. I’m pleased that the Board has accepted a draft Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan that reflects views and recommendations brought forward by a cross-section of the Pearson community. Led by Marcia Dawson, the process of creating this plan was robust and, when finalized, I look forward to sharing it with all of you and, in turn, hearing your ideas and actions to help our College be a better place of cultural safety and cultural humility.

Secondly, the Board also moved to proceed with development of a comprehensive consultative survey of all Pearson alumni as the first outcome from the work of the Alumni Engagement Working Group. And, we will share more details on these and more in the near future.

The Board also took a serious look at the College’s proposed 2020-21 budget with an eye to ensuring that Pearson has the financial capacity to continue offering a global educational experience that makes us worthy of the slogan, Canada’s School for the World. Because of our collective commitment to merit-based opportunity and prudent financial stewardship, every UWC school in our movement is going through a similar evaluation process. I can tell you that, based on my regular discussions with other UWC heads, each institution is trying its best to come to grips with how a still-evolving pandemic will affect their respective resources and abilities to deliver an exceptional education. As we are well into the final quarter of our fiscal year which ends 30 June, the next few weeks will see many important decisions made. Again, I will have more to share with you on this shortly.

Once more, I want to thank every single Pearson friend and supporter, faculty and staff member, volunteer and donor alike. Thank you to those who have worked very hard under trying conditions to keep our mission relevant and impactful to current and future students around the world. Thank you to those living and providing essential services on campus. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Please continue to take care of yourself and those close to you.

Sincerely,

Ty Pile
President and Head of College
Pearson College UWC