"It's been a long time coming", said Dan Ward, Superintendent of the Garden Valley School Division (GVSD), following the launch of the division's updated website on Thursday, November 21st. 

"It's been about a year in development in terms of working with the vendor and, of course, putting new content together," he explained. "Our IT staff worked really hard on supporting schools but also working with the vendor to make sure that we were ready for the launch."

The division has received a lot of positive feedback on the new site, according to Ward, who said it is now easier to navigate with the help of graphics and pictures and offers consistent messaging between the Division and individual school web pages. He said officials are looking forward to what it will offer in terms of being a mass communication tool for the division.

"So, through the vendor, which is School Messenger, we have the option to seamlessly communicate with parents when there is, you know, an inclement weather day and buses are canceled, or classes are canceled. There will be text messages and emails, and, prior to that, it was more school based, but divisionally, we're going to take care of some of those mass communication pieces."

Users will also notice that the new website is much more accessible on mobile devices. Additionally, it was designed with new government accessibility standards in mind. 

"Our old website, we really couldn't keep up to date in terms of new accessibility standards from government for communication tools provided by school divisions, Crown corporations and others. They have to be accessible. There has to be options with font. There has to be alternative ways that individuals with disabilities can access information on these platforms and that's built in and anything that comes up in terms of a new environment, we're able to work with our vendor and ensure that we're compliant and reaching all of our public," explained Ward.

If you've got children attending high school in GVSD, then you will have also received their latest report card electronically - another feature of the Division's new website vendor. 

"We can offer digital report cards and make sure that there's safe and confidential transmission of those documents because it's safety first in terms of confidentiality," said Ward, noting an email went out to parents offering access to the password protected documents. "So, there is an additional step for security, but that is certainly something that our community has been asking us about, especially at high schools. A lot of paper that goes around, and we all know that high school kids in terms of getting things home sometimes it can be a little spotty at best."

Currently, the option is only available for high school report cards, but Ward says the Division will look at making it available for other grades in the future.

Ward encourages parents and community members to have a look at the new site to see what it offers. If there are any questions, he urges people to contact their school(s).

With files from Pam Fedack


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