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SD43 superintendent issues letter to families regarding recent Israel-Palestine conflict

TRI-CITIES — The letter directly appeals to families of SD43 students about the impact of exposure to recent global tensions.
SD43 superintendent Patricia Gartland (left) has reached out to families regarding exposure to recent Middle East conflict. | File photo

Early in October, a series of attacks by a Palestinian militant group in Israel gripped people's attention and brought a long-historical conflict back to the limelight.

While the news of escalating international relations have dominated the news, it has also led to a lot of graphic exposure, spreading of misinformation and unwarranted bias towards certain communities.

Patricia Gartland, superintendent of School District 43 (SD43) in the Tri-Cities, is reaching out to the families directly about the impact of media coverage on students, their families and the staff.

"Such events can be extremely unsettling and can invoke feelings such as fear, sadness, worry, animosity towards others and more," Gartland's letter reads.

"In times like these, it is crucial to connect and care for others and especially, to be kind and sensitive towards everyone."

The letter also noted the role SD43 plays in making students and communities feel safe and included.

"As a School District, we know that it is critical that all students feel safe and included in our communities. It is our obligation to protect and uphold the human rights of every child, and to ensure their well-being so that they remain connected and productive in their learning."

Quoting Section 8 of the Human Rights Code, “there is no place for actions and comments that disparage or discriminate against others,” Gartland hopes that everyone in the school community not only act such, but also treat each other with kindness, dignity and compassion.

"We are proud of the culture and climate our schools have created as a foundation for student learning," she said in the statement.

As the safety and wellness of the children are utmost priority, Gartland hopes the families of the students reach out to the school administration, teacher or a counsellor to seek help on navigating these difficult times.

She also noted Section 7 of the Human Rights Code bars all persons, including students, from publishing or displaying anything that would indicate an intention to discriminate against another or expose them to contempt or ridicule.