Mental health will be a greater focus this year in the Hanover School Division. 

“Mental health is a pretty big deal,” says board chair Ron Falk. “Coming out of the COVID situation, it just seems people have changed to some extent.” 

He says the pandemic has put a lot of stress on families, and outside stressors follow students into the schools. 

“Mental health is a very, very big concern,” Falk says. “Not just in our division, but this is certainly across the province.” 

He says this is a big deal and schools need to act now to help students navigate various challenges

“We're looking for as many resources as we can.” 

As schools closed for the winter break, Hanover’s Superintendent sent out an email to families which included resources and phone numbers for support for children and their families. 

“Because even though Christmas is a really joyous and happy time for the vast number of people, there's certainly a segment of the school population and the community where this is just a really tough time,” Falk says. “And so, we want to keep that in mind.” 

He says the division is also going to work on creating more space in a few schools to accommodate the increasing student population in some communities. 

“We have a lot of kids back in school now,” says Falk. “We have growth in enrollment, we have a lot of immigration happening in this community and certainly in our schools in Hanover. It's good to see that happening, again.” 

Enrollment is higher than what the division had budgeted, and Falk says that is a good sign. 

“We have a lot of Ukrainian families in the community now and the diversity in this community is very noticeable,” he says. “A lot of people have been moving into this area continually in the last 12 to, let's say, 15 years.” 

He is hoping the province will make some announcements this year regarding some capital projects. 

“We're certainly waiting for the official go ahead, but the early years school in Steinbach is not far away from getting a final go-ahead, as is the addition in Green Valley to the high school there over there.” 

The plan is to put in a brand-new gymnasium in the high school in Grunthal and three classrooms. 

“And then renovate the entire existing gym, which is a little on the small side as the community knows, into an arts area,” Falk says. “And then of course Mitchell middle, we're also working on that one as well, adding another four classrooms there.” 

Falk says all those projects are either finished in the design stage and just waiting for approval or very close to being finished. 

“So, all of those are just around the corner from being announced, I would think.”