Parents concerned with four relocatable classrooms coming to Connaught

Four new relocatable classrooms coming to École Connaught Community School has some parents concerned about overcrowding and playground size, but the Ministry of Education says the movable structures are the best way to provide flexible space.Sarah Cummings Truszkowski, whose three children are in Grades 8, 5 and 2 at Connaught, has a mixed reaction to the new relocatable classrooms (also known as portables) being used. While she thinks this is a better option than using multipurpose rooms as additional classrooms, she is worried the extra space won’t be ready by the first day of school.“I would rather my kid be in a portable than taking out the library or the music room, which is what is happening right now,” she said.“What’s going to happen now this fall? Because the portables aren’t even ready… the library is now gone in the school and there’s some classrooms in there and all those lovely spaces that the kids used to be able to use are going to be used for classrooms, which is disappointing.”Truszkowski says she’s also worried about how the relocatables are cutting into playground space. Starting this fall, she said recess time will be split into two groups to accommodate more kids playing in a smaller area.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.“All the kids and friends and siblings won’t be able to play with each other and there’s half the space in the playground because of all this construction too, so that’s no fun,” she said.Keith Tramer, whose daughter is in Grade 3 at Connaught, is also concerned about the playground downsize.“If you’ve got this many more students coming in and you’re taking a third of the playground away, how does that sound proper?” he said. “(I’m) not happy about the containers coming in.”And with more new students coming into the school this year, Tramer doesn’t think even four new classrooms will be enough to return the multipurpose rooms back to their original uses.Related Regina teacher fundraising to clear teachers’ classroom supply wish lists Parents concerned about education quality with schools in overcapacity ‘We cannot continue to tighten:’ Regina school divisions face another tough budget Regina Public Schools spokesperson Terry Lazarou said the division plans to have the four portables in use by November, and three temporary classrooms have been set up in the school in the meantime. He acknowledged the portables will cut into the playground, but said “our priority is always students in the classroom.”Connaught isn’t the only school in Regina receiving portable classrooms.More classrooms are needed across Regina’s school divisions as they see an increasing number of students. Regina Public Schools is projecting a total of 24,493 students this fall, said Lazarou, an increase of more than 2,000 students since 2015. Regina Catholic Schools are anticipating 12,206 students this fall, up more than 1,300 students from 2015.École Wascana Plains School is getting one new relocatable. According to the province’s Ministry of Education, St. Gregory School and St. Joan of Arc School are also each receiving one relocatable, although these are being shuffled from other Catholic schools.While some parents might not be pleased with relocatable classrooms, the Ministry of Education’s executive director of infrastructure Sheldon Ramstead said these movable structures are the best option to address “fluctuating enrolment.” Instead of building a larger traditional school, constructing a slightly smaller building and then using portables gives divisions more flexibility in allocating space.When the Ministry of Education builds a school, Ramstead said it designs the building for “stable enrolment” — the number of students a neighbourhood will have once it is fully developed and there is little population growth. Relocatable classrooms are often a part of that design. Ramstead said Connaught and École Harbour Landing Elementary School were both built with the intention of using portable classrooms within the first few years.“As the community ages out and kids move on, then they’re able to move those relocatables — like Regina Catholic is — to other schools that need it as those communities grow with younger children,” said Ramstead.“All of a sudden you’ve got a school that has capacity but there’s no way for you to right-size it. With the relocatables, it provides us with the opportunity to move those to a school that needs the space and we can lower the operating costs of that school without having empty classrooms.”The cost difference between using portable classrooms versus building a larger school up front is “negligible,” said Ramstead, and the main draw to relocatables is the flexibility they offer without compromising on building quality.“They are built as well as any school construction in the province now and they are designed to move multiple times, and they’ve got the same lifespan as your school construction,” he said.lgiesbrecht@postmedia.com read more

Recalling Holocaust is vital to avoid falling back into the abyss says

“The victims came from different countries and backgrounds. They were ordinary women, men and children. They were like us. Acts of genocide do not merely happen to ‘others,’” Under-Secretary-General Sergei Ordzhonikidze said yesterday at the inauguration of an exhibition entitled “Auschwitz: The Depth of the Abyss” at the UN’s Geneva headquarters. “Even when we find it hard to face the gruesome illustrations of the Holocaust, we need to remember. We need to see – to feel – the depth of the abyss to ensure that we do not descend into it again,” he added. “We must never be complacent when acts of barbarism take place. We must speak up and act whenever and wherever we witness cruelty and violation of human rights. If not, our indifference, or our collective inability to act, will aid the inhumanity. “Sixty years ago, the United Nations was founded on the human family’s collective commitment to ensuring that the horrors of the Holocaust would never re-occur. We owe it to all the victims of the Holocaust – and victims of other acts of genocide – to honour this commitment,” said Mr. Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG). read more

Iraq amid fears cholera outbreak may worsen UN agencies step up support

In order to ensure household water supplies were properly disinfected, UNICEF explained that 1.3 million water treatment tablets for household usage and 1,000 water treatment tablets for use in community water storage tanks had already been distributed.Mr. Hawkins said the important part of UNICEF’s effort is to ensure that communities can protect themselves against cholera. “They can do that in simple ways, for example, by using water only from a protected source, by treating the water they store at home, and by getting medical help as soon as any member of the family develops diarrhoea or other symptoms,” he explained.With providing 820,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts to treat patients suffering from dehydration, UNICEF also made great effort to ensure the threat cholera represents could be understood by the public. UNICEF said in the statement, “cholera information materials are being delivered to households across Iraq, through awareness and prevention messaging in schools, home visits, as well as via SMS, social media, and mass media, including billboards in high-risk areas.”UNICEF also reports in the press release, underlining the seriousness with which the cholera outbreak is viewed, the beginning of the school year was delayed by a full month in large parts of Iraq.Concluding the statement, $12.7 million is required for UNICEF to maintain its response to the cholera outbreak, because of the critically underfunded humanitarian operations in the country. “There is unfortunately a high risk that cholera will reach more areas of Iraq, affecting marginalized and displaced children, women and their families in particular, so we have to act fast,” UNICEF Representative in Iraq Peter Hawkins said in a statement released today.UNICEF is part of urgent efforts underway to protect communities and families from the effects of a cholera outbreak that has already infected more than 2,200 people – about 20 per cent of them children – across 15 of the country’s 18 governorates.With concern rising that the disease could spread further, UNICEF – alongside the World Health Organisation (WHO) – indicates that it has provided support to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, delivered and secured clean water supplies, offered treatment for people with cholera symptoms, and undertaken a national communication campaign to help people protect themselves against the disease. “Heavy rains in late October inundated several areas of the country considered vulnerable to the spread of cholera,” addressing in the statement, UNICEF also mentioned that 65,000 residents near Baghdad had been affected by the overflow sewage system due to the extensive flooding.According to the statement, “since the cholera outbreak was confirmed in mid-September, UNICEF has supported the distribution of bottled water to 37,000 people, and water trucking at a rate of 100,000 litres per day, benefitting 5,000 people. Community water tanks sufficient for 15,500 people have been installed, and family water and hygiene kits distributed to 44,250 families.” read more