Prince Edward Island schools attempt to provide ‘normal’ routine for Ukrainian students

A dozen Ukrainian students settle in schools on the island after fleeing the war in their country of origin.

Janet Perry-Payne, administrator of English as an Additional Language (EAL) and French as an Additional Language (FAL) programs and services for the Department of Education, said students attend schools in the East Royalty area in Charlottetown, Cornwall, Summerside and O’Leary. Others will be placed in the coming days.

She said it can be a difficult time of year for students to start at a new school, but it’s important for them to get into a routine and connect with new friends immediately.

“We have to recognize, of course, that the students left, under very difficult circumstances, their home country of Ukraine. So there are a lot of very raw feelings. We are monitoring very closely to make sure that, you know, we’re able to support students in the best way possible with those emotions.”

Island students are aware of the situation in Ukraine and have been very welcoming, Perry-Payne said.

Education officials are also doing all they can to provide them with the support they need.

‘Safe place’

“Teachers work with these kids and students every day, so it’s a safe place to show how you feel,” Perry-Payne said.

“And if we see any outward signs of trauma or strong emotion, we make sure we connect with the psychological support that is in school.”

For students who have difficulty speaking English, Perry-Payne said schools provide outlets such as games, music and other activities to allow them to express themselves.

“Education is one of those fundamental things that I think every family in the world wants and needs for their children. It provides structure. It gives this feeling that, you know, we live in a time where things can be, I quote without quotes, Ordinary.”

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