Message from the Board Chair and Director of Education

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Our hearts break with the York Region community and the world as we witness the horrific and tragic events unfold in Ukraine. It is important to acknowledge that this war is deeply affecting YRDSB students, staff, families and communities. Our thoughts go out to all those affected. 

Canada is home to the third largest population of individuals of Ukrainian origin, outside of Ukraine and Russia, many of whom may have friends and family or connections in the affected regions. We know York Region is home to both Ukrainian and Russian populations, as well as those from neighbouring countries who will be watching this conflict closely. 

To support our students, we provided a resource to educators to support them in navigating challenging conversations in the classroom. It is essential that our staff are attentive to the triggering effect these conversations can have, and that we prioritize providing support to students who may be experiencing distress or anxiety and ensuring that all of our students feel safe in the classroom. The resource includes tips to help staff reinforce our students’ sense of safety and well-being. 

It’s also important to acknowledge that this situation is very challenging for many of our staff members, who are both experiencing the effects of these events and supporting their students. We are also sharing additional resources with staff to ensure they know how to access supports should they need them, and encouraging them to take tangible steps to care for their own well-being. 

We also have tips available on our website to help families in supporting their child that we have shared through social media. They are available on the mental health section of our website.  

As the situation unfolds, we will continue to ensure we are providing appropriate supports and resources to our schools. 

As always, school staff are able to refer individual students for mental health supports through our board clinicians and/or through our community mental health agency partners.  Please reach out to your school if you feel your child needs additional support. 


Allan Tam, Chair

Louise Sirisko, Director