Regina Public, Catholic Schools resume in-class learning

Regina Public and Catholic School students resumed in-person classes on Monday, after being sent home for remote learning at the end of March.

All Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 8 students will return, and Grade 9 to 12 students will continue alternating days of attendance at the public schools.

Regina Catholic elementary schools will return to Level 2, face to face with masks, and Level 3 in schools with more than 600 people. Catholic high schools will also return to Level 3.

For some students CTV News spoke to, being back in the classroom is a relief.

“I was excited to go back to school to see my friends, of course,” said Eden Gilbert, a grade nine student at Miller Comprehensive High School.

“Online school for me was like another different story,” said Karin Iskander, who is also in grade nine at Miller Comprehensive High School. “For me, it was like I lost motivation… it was too much work.”

Other students said they were concerned with the virus still spreading through the community.

“Having to deal with worrying about, ‘Am I going to get COVID? Am I going to spread it to my family members?’ It’s not something that’s fairly easy to think about. Like it’s kind of terrifying in my option,” said Kennedy Pisula, a grade nine student at Miller Comprehensive High School.

When students were sent home, all were originally scheduled to return to class on April 12. That date was extended twice.

Last week, Dawn Barker, a grandparent in Regina, created a petition asking Regina School Divisions to reconsider the return to in-person learning said submitted the petition to the school boards, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Premier’s office on Friday. Since then, she has been asked to present the petition to the Regina Public School Board meeting on Tuesday night.

“I realize that there are people that are having a tough time with online, and that there are kids whose mental health has been impacted,” said Barker. “But, then I ask, how is their mental health going to be if a teacher passes away because they got Covid?”

Kyle Anderson, an assistant professor of biochemistry, microbiology and immunology at the University of Saskatchewan, compared the current Covid-19 numbers to the data at the time Regina schools announced they would move to remote learning.

“We have 27 per cent more active cases in Regina today, than we did when that decision was made. There’s 12 per cent more cases per day, incidents of new cases, happening now compared to then,” said Anderson.

Furthermore, he said there is 43 per cent more people in the hospital and 62 per cent more people in the ICU.

“Everything that we can monitor statist-wise, says its worse now, yet we’re making this decision to go back,” said Anderson. “The only thing we have in our favour right now, is that more people have been vaccinated.”

Teachers were eligible to start getting their vaccine on Friday. However, Anderson said it takes two weeks for protection to occur after a vaccination.

“They aren’t going to be protected until two weeks of school have passed, which gives them a lot of time to potentially be exposed,” he said.

Anderson said, in the past month, 2,000 Saskatchewan children have had Covid-19. According to recent data, Anderson said 15 per cent of those cases will have symptoms spanning beyond five weeks.

“So that’s 300 kids in this province who are going to have long-term effects from Covid, just in the last month,” said Anderson. “We should be thinking about, ‘Yes, it’s not deadly for children, but it is and can have severe effects.’”

Neither the Regina Public or Catholic school divisions had any comment on the return to class, but both are asking students and staff to continue with required mask use, best cleaning practices and physical distancing.