Back to school but not routine for students

Back to school, but not back to routine, after one week of in-person learning.

“It was different. Not something I’m used to,” says Kiki Sran, a Grade 11 student at Holy Names Catholic High School.

But different can be good.

“I think they’ve gone pretty good. I like being back in the building and seeing all my friends again, so I think it’s good,” says Kalyssa Gendru, Grade 11 student from Holy Names.

Despite enhanced safety measures and vaccines, more than a dozen schools have had to dismiss hundreds of students one week into the school year.

“I’m hopeful that we can continue to keep the schools opened,” says Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, interim local medical officer of health.

If the cases don’t get under control, Nesathurai says another group of measures could be considered, trying to avoid virtual learning if possible.

“From my perspective, one of the most important public health goals is to try and keep the instructional component opened,” Nesathurai says.

Both the local Catholic and public school boards were unavailable for comment on Monday.

The union representing public elementary teachers is cautiously optimistic after one week in the classroom.

“Mental health is a huge priority for us so we will continue to put the kids’ safety first and also try to make it as enjoyable as possible,” says Mario Spagnuolo, local ETFO president.

According to Spagnoulo, class sizes at the junior and intermediate levels remains a concern.

The public board welcomed J.K. students on Monday, who are now required to wear masks indoors.

A new rule for the new school year.

“The masks aren’t the issue, it’s the class size. There’s a lot of little kids in a very small area,” Spagnoulo tells CTV News.

Tracing symptoms and cases — critical to keeping kids in class.

Spagnuolo is encouraging parents to fill out the required daily screener forms.

“Principals have to contact the house, contact parents and get the screener completed and it just creates more obstacles in a classroom that doesn’t really need any more obstacles.”