As schools across the city begin to welcome students back for the first time since March, those students are preparing for a school year like no other.
Students will have to adapt to a long list of new rules and routines put in place to help prevent outbreaks of coronavirus, everything from whom they can interact with to how they'll learn.
CBC Ottawa spoke with three students who attend schools in the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) to get some insight into how they're feeling on the eve of this new beginning.
Alexia Ndombe is going into Grade 8 at Immaculata High School in Old Ottawa East. Her sister, Tabitha Lipambala, is entering Grade 10 at the same school.
Patrick Bennett is going into Grade 12 at St. Mark High School in Manotick. Bennett also serves as a student trustee for the OCSB.
These interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
Excitement, with a dose of trepidation
"I'm pretty excited. Of course, there's always the concerns with COVID and an outbreak from students at school, but it's been a long time since I've had face-to-face teaching."
-Patrick Bennett, Grade 12, St. Mark High School
"I feel confident and I also feel scared. I'm confident because I know I'm still going to be safe, but not as safe."
-Alexia Ndombe, Grade 8, Immaculata High School.
On returning to in-class learning
"I've been missing going to school with a teacher teaching stuff to me and actually telling me what to do, because at home it's kind of hard to learn. You're on a screen and it's not like you're in person."
"I feel like it's harder learning doing online school. Most kids will say that it's easier, but honestly, it's much harder for me because I feel like I need somebody there. If I need help, I can go to that person who's the teacher. I can ask him or her and he'll be there and he'll tell me and he'll help me. But when I'm doing online, I have to wait for them to be online, for them to answer, because they also have personal lives."
-Tabitha Lipambala, Grade 10, Immaculata High School
"Online's not bad, but really to learn at the highest level of capacity, you really need to be in the class and you can ask questions and see the problems in front of you. And not only that, I can have other students that will help me solve problems, or if I have issues or if I need help or anything. And also the social aspect: you really don't interact with anyone when you're in online school or even during summer with social distancing being such an important way of preventing the spread."
A year like no other
"I know that a lot of things at school are going to change. We're not going to be able to be at the cafeteria anymore. I want to see my friends, but I won't be able to be as close [to] them like before. We're not really going to be able to go to our favourite classes that often and do a lot of fun stuff, like go on field trips."
"It's going to be more difficult to get help from your fellow students or even teachers' help. Before, you could go in at lunch and ask for help from a teacher and classrooms that have, let's say, math help — you go [to] the math teacher to ask for help. You can still do that, but it's not the same when you can't work together in a group of four students trying to solve problems together. That's really fun and very productive."
Social distancing in the classroom
"I know a lot of teenagers are going to be like, 'Oh, it's just COVID, it's not a big deal,' or, 'You're not going to get it, it doesn't exist.' I know teenagers who do that. Some of them are not going to care about other people's safety and they're just going to come and say, 'Oh, it was just a joke. I touched you because it was a joke.' It's a school environment and I want to be safe, but clearly those kids are going to make me feel so unsafe."
"I'm just going to tell them to stay away, like, a sort of distance. I need my space. I need my bubble. Like, you can stay away for a bit."
"Lunch is the most concerning because you're going to obviously be sitting with your friends, you'll be eating food with no masks on. I don't see everyone socially distancing away from each other."