Students in locked down regions eager to head back to class

·2 min read
Nine-year-old Adam Byrns has adapted to online learning, but says he's still looking forward to being back in class with his friends.  (Submitted by Emilie Boulay - image credit)
Nine-year-old Adam Byrns has adapted to online learning, but says he's still looking forward to being back in class with his friends. (Submitted by Emilie Boulay - image credit)

Nine-year-old Adam Byrns is looking forward to being back in the classroom with the other kids.

"I was happy about going back," he said. "I do still have a couple questions about if we still have to wear a mask, if we still have to stay two metres from others, stuff like that."

"But I'm pretty happy about going back and going to recess and seeing my friends," he added.

Premier François Legault announced Tuesday that students in the Quebec City region and parts of Chaudière-Appalaches will head back to school for in-person classes starting Monday.

For Byrns, a grade four student in Thetford Mines who's been doing virtual learning for nearly a month, that's great news.

"The first day was a bit hard," he said of his online learning experience, explaining that technical difficulties add a whole new set of challenges. "But you get used to it and figure a way around it."

Byrns starts his day by having breakfast, watching a little TV, then signing on to class at 8:30 a.m. for an hour. The students then get a half-hour break before signing back on at 10 a.m., and by the end of the day, they've complete four hours of learning.

Byrns said it's nice to have more breaks throughout the day, compared to the faster pace of being at school, but he's still eager to learn in person.

He says the most challenging class right now is gym, which has been adapted by substituting the usual heart rate-pumping curriculum for theory classes about cardiovascular health, and the importance of diet and exercise, before getting in a "short, but tough" home workout.

For 10-year-old Ollie Weiss, a grade four student in Quebec City, the days are "long, tiring, and boring" at home, despite the welcome breaks.

"It was more boring than a normal day of school," he said.

Weiss agreed with Byrns that the technological issues that come with online classes are a barrier to learning. He said he finds it hard to concentrate on his studies with a screen between him and his teacher.

And while he knows to expect two-metre distancing, class bubbles, and lots of hand washing, Weiss said he's "sad" to hear the mask is about to become a bigger part of his day.

He's been glad for the reprieve while he's been learning from home but Weiss will have to wear a face mask even in the classroom when he returns to school next week.

Still, he said he's looking forward to after-school programming so he can spend time with his friends.

Meanwhile, in the Beauce and Bellechasse, online learning is being extended because officials say community spread is still too high to greenlight a return to schools.