Students return to class after Monday's snow day, but concerns still swirling for some parents

Like thousands of students across Quebec, children at Allion Elementary School in Lasalle are finally back in school, but feelings are mixed.

Classes were supposed to start Monday but it ended up being a snow day.

Now that it's finally happening after weeks of distance learning, parents and teachers at the school said they're mostly relieved.

“Being in person is where you make all the connections with the kids,” said Jessica Eagleton, a resource teacher at the school.

“They're happier being in school with the teachers than being online virtually,” said Antonini Mendolia, whose child goes to the school.

But that relief is mixed with concern as some wonder about the safety of classrooms with COVID-19 cases still circulating and hospitalizations remaining high.

“He had COVID in his class last year so I worry he has low immunity,” said one parent to CTV News.

Some English school boards installed air purifiers on their own. English Montreal School Board Chair Joe Ortona says he is optimistic it will make all the difference.

Stil, the future remains uncertain.

“We know half of the cases come from schools in Quebec and what all of that is going to mean in terms of student absenteeism and teacher shortages,” Ortona said Tuesday.

At Allion, every teacher is accounted for so far.

“In case of shortage of teachers we've compiled a list of emergency substitutes, but at this point it's not something we need to look at,” said the school’s principal, Josie D’Adamo.

Quebec Premier François Legault has argued that a return to school is safe, citing vaccination rates and booster shots for teachers.

CO2 monitors are being installed in classrooms and students now have to wear masks at all times. Teachers, though, have been calling for N95 face masks but so far the government isn't providing them.

“So far, it's fallen on deaf ears. I'm hoping they will listen. It's a question of safety for everyone,” Ortona said.

Still, Allion's principal is confident it will be a safe term.

“This is nothing new," she said, "we've been dealing with this for two years."

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