P.E.I. releases more information about the return to school on Monday

P.E.I. releases more information about the return to school on Monday

CBC P.E.I. continues to focus on the aftermath of Fiona. If your data or internet is limited, click here for the CBC Lite version of the P.E.I. site.

The P.E.I. Department of Education has released more information about which schools will reopen on Monday and which still need to be assessed following damage from post-tropical storm Fiona.

The department has established a web page that is being updated twice daily — at noon and 5 p.m. — as new information becomes available about schools. You can find it here.

"Education and being in the classroom is so important for our students," said Education and Lifelong Learning Minister Natalie Jameson during a media briefing Thursday afternoon.

"Safety continues to be our priority and we have had structural engineers evaluating our damaged buildings and fire inspectors assessing all of our schools."

Cardigan Consolidated School will likely take several weeks to repair, Jameson said, and students are being relocated to a dedicated wing at Montague Regional High School starting Wednesday.

"I do want to be clear, however, that none of our schools will be moving to remote learning at this time. With the power outages and disruptions in web connections, virtual learning is not a viable option right now," she said.

"We ask for your continued patience."

Jameson said student well-being teams are being deployed to schools next week, and staff will be offering respite services for those families whose kids won't be returning to the classroom on Monday.

"As it relates to the kids in class, I'm hoping that they can expect a relatively [normal] return to school," she said.

"We're there. We're gonna be there to support our students and staff throughout the coming days. We know that this is challenging and I'd love to say today that 100 per cent of our schools are opening on Monday, but that's just not the reality."

The Public Schools Branch announced earlier this week that the professional learning day planned for Oct. 7 has been cancelled.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

'They still need to have some structure'

It's hard for some parents to see the school year disrupted so early – especially following years of COVID-19 shutdown, said Sabrinna Spingle, who has three kids. Two of them go to West Royalty and one goes to Queen Charlotte.

"They still need to have some structure, they need to remember that it is actually a school year."

While some parents are worried about kids being away from school – some students have been soaking in the break.

Spingle's daughter seven-year-old Evelyn Buckle has not minded having the week off from going to West Royalty Elementary because she helped her brother fix a fort after the storm.

"It's really fun and you spend your day outside," she said.

"Some of the gym roof came off, we might be going back this week."

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Evelyn's brother Griffin Buckle goes to Queen Charlotte Intermediate. He thinks the school might move to online learning if they can't get students back into the building this coming week.

"I just want to go back to how the school was before but I know that's not happening so we're just going to be going back to whatever they have done with it," he said, adding he hopes school doesn't go online because it can be hard to keep up.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

In a note to parents and guardians, director Norbert Carpenter said professional learning is an extremely important part of the school calendar, but given the number of days missed so early in the year, the Department of Education feels it is prudent to change Oct. 7 to an instructional day.

"Roof damage varied from pieces of flashing blowing off to some substantial damage. I think it's safe to say all school properties had some level of damage." he said. "We're thinking about students and families right now. We want our students back."

Classes will resume at UPEI and Holland College on Monday, with the exception of Holland College's Belmont Centre, which currently still has no power.