While many teachers have spent the last week or so trying to figure out how to squeeze enough desks into their classroom, each a meter apart, Dean Valentino's music classroom, at Sandwich Secondary School in Lasalle, is spacious by comparison.
"With the assistance of our custodian we have set up these six-foot distance spaces, each one has a desk and a music stand — to throw their extra stuff — and the tiers are eight-feet long so they have a bit of extra space," said Valentino.
Three risers form deep stairsteps up the room, with tape sectioning off each student from the next.
A little extra elbow room would probably be appreciated by Valentino's trombone players any other year, but because of the pandemic, the Greater Essex County District School Board has decided instruments will not be played in class.
Instead, they will have to be practised at home, with class time dedicated to music theory.
"I can send an instrument home, as long as they're the only one using it," he said. "Since we can't perform in the class, it's going to be a lot of textbook worksheets, theory as one segment, and then the performance stuff will just be homework."
"It will be a lot of students listening to me, and me listening to them a lot less, which is very strange," Valentino admitted.
Valentino largely made the classroom arrangements by himself. When he got his first look at his class on Tuesday, the room was completely empty and he volunteered to help.
"It wasn't an intentional oversight, they had so much work to do in the school," said Valentino.
For example, there are teachers who don't know if they will be in-class or online, he said. Others who still don't know what courses they will be teaching, with students in class as soon as next week. For others, including Valentino, the technology they need to deliver the coursework is still being tracked down.
"I thought I would have a computer — it's gone," said Valentino. "I need that computer, and there's other teachers with the same issue."
Valentino credits the school, and board, for taking hand hygiene seriously.
Each teacher at the school has their own dedicated hand sanitizer station, he said, and every teaching space has been redone to ensure it has a handwashing station.
In his case that means the hot water has finally been switched on at the sink in his music room, a paper towel dispenser has been installed and they'll stay fully stocked on hand sanitizer.
Meanwhile, plexiglass dividers were delivered to the Windsor-Essex Catholic Board on Wednesday, for use in classrooms where kids will be seated at tables, instead of desks.
These enhanced measures will help maintain appropriate physical distance between students during class time," said the board in a Facebook post Wednesday.