A Saskatoon mom is defending her kids’ teacher in the wake of a tragedy at École Dundonald School.
Adrienne Stone’s twins, a boy and a girl, are in the same kindergarten class as a little boy who died Monday after being found unresponsive in a pond located about 100 metres from the school.
“Sitting down with my kids yesterday had to be one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had in my life,” she said Tuesday in an interview with Saskatchewan Afternoon host David Kirton.
Along with the difficulty of having to tell her five-year-olds that they’d lost their friend, Stone said she’s had a hard time with the level of hatred she’s seen poured out in online comments following the death.
“I have seen it being blamed on anything from Trudeau, Brad Wall, the teachers, the city, the parents and even the child — and it breaks my heart,” she said.
Stone said she feels comments about the boy’s teacher have been especially unfair.
“I can’t imagine what’s she’s going through right now. It breaks my heart because she’s one of the best teachers I have ever seen in my whole entire life.”
With two older children also in school, Stone said her twins’ teacher stands out.
“I’ve been dealing with teachers for nine years, and she is an outstanding, amazing, heart-of-gold woman.”
Stone said she wished people would be more considerate behind their keyboards.
“I had to leave social media,” she said. “I couldn’t follow it anymore because I’d read these and just start crying because there’s no one to blame for this. Nobody. It’s a tragedy.”
In the meantime, Stone said Monday’s incident has been a sharp reminder of how fragile her own children’s lives are.
“You turn your back one second and they could be gone. It doesn’t matter if you’re at school, at the mall, at home — it’s a tragedy.”
School board communication left parents in panic: Mom
While Stone said it was unfair to lay blame in the boy’s death, she did level criticism at how the school communicated with parents about the incident.
She said the response started with a text message from the school at about 11:30 a.m. stating that there had been an accident and that 9-1-1 had been called.
“I had to read it about three, four times just for it to register. I thought it was my kid to start off with because it didn’t say ‘Someone else’s child,’ you know?”
Stone said she rushed to the school, unsure of what was going on. She said she arrived to find the building locked, with several other parents outside who also thought their children might have been hurt.
“Parents are coming up to the school in absolute tears saying, ‘Where’s my child? Where’s my child?’ and no information is being given.” she said.
Stone said she nearly panicked when another parent told her they’d heard ‘a kindergarten boy’ had been in an accident, as her thoughts immediately jumped to her son.
“I have a kindergarten boy so then you throw in that message, and ‘a kindergarten boy,’ your heart stops,” she said.
She said a school employee eventually came out and asked parents to write their kids’ names and grades on a slip of paper so that someone could check on them.
Shortly after, Stone said another school employee — possibly a teacher — came out and explained only parents whose kids weren’t affected would have received the text message, as the deceased boy’s family had already been notified and made their way to the hospital.
From there, Stone said she and the other parents were allowed into the school. She said she rushed to her kids’ classroom only to find it empty as the children had been moved to a nearby classroom for lunch.
She said she came into the room and was nearly overcome with relief when she found her kids seated on the floor, sharing grapes and sandwiches with their friends.
While Stone said clearer messaging would probably have saved many parents a lot of turmoil on Monday afternoon, she praised the school for keeping her kids insulated from the death of their friend.
“They had no clue that they’d just lost one of their classmates,” she said. “They had no idea that their classmate was gone. And I credit the school for that because they didn’t throw the kids into a panic.”
City councillor wants more information before proposing changes
Ward 4 Coun. Troy Davies said he’s heard from concerned parents and residents in the wake of the boy’s death.
“Three hours of me just listening to upset parents and community members who are going through a mourning period right now,” he told 650 CKOM’s Brent Loucks.
While Davies said the city would obviously look at ways to prevent future incidents, he noted much remains unknown about exactly what happened Monday.
“Moving forward, I think it’s really important that we do have all the facts before making any knee-jerk reaction decisions,” he said.
Davies said one of the more obvious proposals would be to build a fence around the pond where the boy was found. But even there, he said he hadn’t heard anything close to agreement in his calls with constituents.
“It’s easy to just say, ‘we need a fence.’ But, again, I had people phoning me: ‘How big’s the fence? Do we build a fence? Do we fence the parks?’ There’s so many questions out there,” he said.
It is a sentiment echoed by Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre.
“We are still at a point where it is being absolutely established what happened and then of course what we can do to fix it,” Eyre told reporters at a school event in Regina Tuesday. “We will make sure that in the coming days and weeks we speak to divisions about the issue of fences.”
At the time of writing, no official cause of the boy’s death had been released.