Some parents relieved, worried about back-to-school plan after COVID-19 outbreak

·2 min read
Ellen Downey's two children attend West Royalty Elementary, which is closed until Monday.  (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
Ellen Downey's two children attend West Royalty Elementary, which is closed until Monday. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

Students in the Charlottetown area are headed back to school Thursday — except those at West Royalty Elementary — and this has some parents relieved, but still concerned about the potential for more school outbreaks.

Melissa Bruce's daughter started kindergarten last week at Sherwood Elementary.

She's happy to be sending her daughter back to school, but is concerned about what the future might hold.

"Worry will be in the back of my mind for sure. As to when and if that will happen again, and to have a plan in place for home learning," Bruce said.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

Both of Ellen Downey's kids go to West Royalty, and she said she feels relieved by Wednesday's announcement that they'll be back in class next week.

"It sounds like we got ahead of it, that the cases have slowed down for West Royalty Elementary," she said. "They seem to have a good idea what's going on, and as of right now we're going back to class Monday morning."

'I think it made it more challenging'

Online learning started Wednesday for West Royalty students.

Principal Marilyn MacLean said having things ready to go any earlier would've been tough, given the school year only started last week.

Louise Martin/CBC
Louise Martin/CBC

"I think it made it more challenging. If we were deeper into the school year, students would've been familiar with their student login information," she said.

"They would've actually been onto the Google Classrooms and onto the Google sites, and more familiar with that process as well."

Although, day one of online learning went well, she said.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

The Public Schools Branch said other schools will be prepared to go virtual if need be.

Its hope is that with new, increased measures in schools across P.E.I., the province can avoid more serious outbreaks and keep kids in the classroom, said Public Schools Branch director Norbert Carpenter.

"Credible authorities like the Canadian Paediatric Society and OACD have told us the dangers of not having in-class learning over time are quite stark. So I think we're doing the right thing," Carpenter said.

Downey said she agrees. She's keen to get her kids back in class, for their sake, and hers as neither she or her husband can work from home and are running out of vacation days.

"Like every other employee, my leave bank is only so deep."

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