Waterloo Region students return to in-person learning

Waterloo Region students returned to the classroom on Tuesday morning.

Children and teens were out in bunches Labour Day enjoying their last bits of free time before school started again..

The return to in-person learning is several months in the making and will be full of plenty of trepidation.

Charlie Hope is going into Grade 3 and knows play time with his classmates will be much different than playtime with his siblings.

“Be six feet away, or two metres,” he said. “And always have your mask on.”

His mother Courtney says the adjustments are more than worth it.

“The kids need it, they get sick of each other,” she said. “They get sick of being at home with the parents.”

Self-screening will be mandatory every single day for students, teachers, and staff all across the province. The Ontario government recently trimmed the list associated with COVID-19 down, meaning students with runny noses, sore throats, or headaches can still go to class.

“We have to show proof that we’ve done the screening and how we’re supposed to show it,” said Courtney. “Are we showing it every day? Do you print something off? Is it online?”

While some questions are still up in the air for parents, others like Tyler Schmalenberg say they’re also contending with nerves as students return to class.

“The health guidelines are clear enough, but uncomfortable because we know there is a sizeable amount of people that aren’t vaccinated,” he said.

In Waterloo Region, 68 per cent of those aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated. Both the Catholic and public school boards say that, if there’s a case in the classroom, those with both shots may go back to school quicker than those unvaccinated.

Lucia Sofronov says the return to class isn’t worth the risk, which is why their child Alex Sofronov is starting the sixth grade going back to remote learning.

“I just know kids are not going to be able to follow exactly all the rules for now,” she said. “They’re just too young to understand.”

Meanwhile, the Blackwood family says they don’t want to return to remote learning anytime soon and that their kids already know physically distanced games to play during recess.

“We have pool noodles to touch each other because we can’t touch,” said Nevaeh Blackwood.

Both school boards say they’ll be including as much outdoor time as possible when students return to class.