Back-to-school: Waterloo Region students return to classroom after summer holidays

Summer holidays are officially over and students in Waterloo Region are heading back to school.

The first day of classes always comes with mixed emotions for children and their parents, and it's heightened this year as students move from virtual to in-person learning.

Classes moved completely online after April break due to increasing COVID-19 cases in the spring.

Students at Queen Elizabeth School in Kitchener said they had mixed emotions about this school year. They said they're excited to be back and see their friends, but are nervous about how the school year will play out.

At St. Boniface Catholic elementary school, Tuesday's wasn't just the first day of class but also the school's grand opening.

"The nice thing about starting in a new school is that everything is new. So for us, following rules and safety procedures are just part of what we're going to be learning everyday," said principal Marylin Dawson.

Officials with the Waterloo Region District School Board said they've been preparing for this day since March and several protocols are in place to keep staff, students and families safe.

Safety measures include mandatory masks while indoors, proper hand hygiene, maintaining two metres of physical distancing and daily COVID-19 screening.

Director of education jeewan chanicka said he hopes this will be a good school year.

"I want this to be a year of potential, a year of growth, a year of promise, a way of thinking, of doing things new ways while we keep hold of the things that worked really well," he said Tuesday. "It's not just one or the other, it's how do we take what worked really well and transform it so it works better for everyone."

He added the board is prepared to pivot if the province goes back into a lockdown.

"We're well poised to be able to respond to that need. Of course, everyone is hoping that we don't get there, but we need to be vigilant," chanicka said.