Delayed return to classroom brings relief, clarity to some students, parents

·3 min read
Schools across the province will remain closed until Jan. 24.  (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)
Schools across the province will remain closed until Jan. 24. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)

With schools across the province remaining closed until at least Jan. 24, students and teachers are preparing for another week of online learning.

The original plan was for students to return to classrooms Jan. 17. But as case counts rise and daily averages increase, the province decided to push that date back.

While he prefers attending class in person, Donovan Burt, a Grade 12 student at Bluefield High School, said he's happy with the delay.

"I was honestly very concerned about going back on Monday personally," Burt said.

"My grandmother lives with me. Stepping into a building with 700 other people just doesn't feel like something I can do comfortably at this time. I'm sure when we get to it, they'll put measures in place to make that happen. But I'm glad they've delayed to allow a little bit more time."

Submitted by Donovan Burt
Submitted by Donovan Burt

He said his friend group breathed a collective sigh of relief after the announcement.

"It felt like a weight was off our shoulders when we found out we weren't going back," he said.

"We all want to get back in person and see each other, but we also don't want to put our families at risk and each other at risk."

Heather Mullen, president of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation, said as challenging as all this is for many parents and students, the organization supports the extended delay.

She's heard from a lot of parents frustrated that the province waited so long to make the decision, but understands why it did.

Zoom
Zoom

"I'm one of the parents too and I would love to know sooner. But there's just a lot of things that have to be figured out in order to make these calls," Mullen said.

"They want to make it in a way that we don't have these bumps in the road. I think it'd be more difficult to have the kids get sent back to school and then close in two or three days."

The uncertainty of it all has many parents worried as well, said Mullen.

"There's still a lot of concerns about, 'What happens if my child gets COVID, and the long-term effects and what does that look like?' It still feels like there's a lot of unknowns there."

'Safety and sustainability are extremely important'

The P.E.I. Teachers' Federation is on board with the extended delay as well, though president Aldene Smallman said it is hard on teachers too.

Like students and parents, they've had to adapt to home learning.

"I know that it's extremely long work days, and I know as well trying to balance their own personal situations, it's probably a little harder for a home-work balance in this situation," said Smallman

"But in the short term, we know safety and sustainability are extremely important."

For high school students like Burt, the delay means final exams won't be going ahead. He's glad that was finally announced today.

"Especially as someone applying to post-secondary, having that exam block and the uncertainty, because we weren't sure what exams were going to look like, if they were going to happen," he said.

"It's definitely relieving to have some clarity now."

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