N.B. parents have mixed emotions as kids return to school

There were plenty of mixed emotions outside of New Brunswick schools today, as parents waved goodbye to their little ones starting a new year in the classroom.

"I think it's a little more relaxed in the sense they're not as worried," said Tara Mihaichuk, who was dropping off her son Wyatt who started kindergarten this year at Northrup Frye School in Moncton's north end.

Those doing the drop-off for the first time this year were a bit less confident. Brittany MacGregor's daughter was starting her first year at Northrup Frye as well. Restrictions put in place by the province meant saying goodbye was different for families again this year.

"Only two of us are allowed to go in due to COVID-19 and we only have fifteen minutes in the school with them," said MacGregor.

At the high school level, students were welcoming a return to full-time, in-person learning.

Grade eleven student, Lizzie Henwood, doesn't start classes until Thursday, but she spent the day at Harrison Trimble High School, helping grade nine students get accustomed to their new school.

"I'm really excited to be able to go to school every day again and be able to get my full learning in and I'm sure everyone else is too," said Henwood.

Face masks are still mandatory within common areas for all students and staff, but it's a decision many parents say they agree with.

"They've adjusted to it. They're more resilient than us, so I'm happy that they're still okay with it and we'll continue to follow the guidelines," said mom of two, Amy Doran.

In schools with students over the age of twelve masks will become optional once 90 per cent of people aged 12-19 in their health zone are vaccinated. As of Tuesday, the province says 60.5 per cent of that age group is double-dosed.

School and district staff must be fully vaccinated or undergo regular testing.

When a positive case is confirmed at a school, according to the Healthy and Safe Schools guidelines released by the province late last month, families must be prepared for any of these possible outcomes:

Following a case which has an impact on students, schools will switch to distance learning or may be closed as an operational day to allow for contact tracing and testing. Public Health may require that the school continue to offer distance learning for a longer period if contact tracing and testing is not completed;

 Individuals identified as close contacts being directed to learn or work from home;

  • Groups of individuals being directed to learn or work from home (i.e. a classroom, bus, or grade level);
  • Groups who work or learn in a particular area of the school being directed to learn or work from home (a certain wing of the school); or
  • The entire school being directed to learn and/or work from home.