There were mixed emotions Tuesday as parents sent their children back to school for in-person learning. Over the last 18 months of the pandemic, it was the third time some kids had returned to their classrooms, this time on the traditional post-Labour Day schedule.
As most children were stuck learning from home last year, the opening of schools was a welcome change for some.
“It’s a mixed emotion – a lot of excitement and you just hope for the best for your kid, that they have a good school year, especially with the pandemic happening. It’s sad to see them go in masks for me, but it is what it is, I hope they can see each other’s faces and reactions as the year goes on,” said parent Parry Martin as he dropped off his 4-year-old daughter for the first day of school at Riverside Public School in Elmira.
“I feel fine with dropping them off – the school board has done a lot, there’s a lot of safety in place.”
Many parents and students were a little nervous during the drop-offs the first morning back, some watching from the sidelines as their child skipped happily back to school. Some parents said they felt fine sending their children back to school, and felt it was safe to do so.
With the fourth wave being declared and students younger than 11 not yet eligible for vaccinations, the back-to-school time was a little less heartwarming for parent Carolyn Faulkner as she dropped her daughter off.
“It was a little overwhelming with so many people, but I think it’s going to be fine – they’re being very spacious, very evenly spaced, except for the kindergarteners,” said Faulkner, pointing to the crowd of kindergartners and their parents in the playground during the first day back. “I think the staff have some experience from last year.”
Faulkner and her mom dropped her 9-year-old daughter off at school early September 7, which was a welcome turn of events as she and many children are coming from a year of schooling spent at home.
“She’s excited and nervous about all the school work – she had a good summer. We’ll probably keep looking for her in the house, as we got used to her being around. It’ll be quiet, but in a good way. She’s very happy to be back around her friends.”
Faulkner also noted that her daughter participated in various summer camps, none of which saw any outbreaks, which helped her to feel more secure when dropping her child off at school this year.
Any students attending schools in Waterloo Region will be required to wear masks and socially distance themselves as much as possible. Children born in the year 2009 are now eligible to get vaccinated. Parents and staff members for the school are recommended to get fully vaccinated to help protect others who are not eligible.