Students told to take home belongings, local school officials confident schools will reopen

·2 min read

You can never be too prepared.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce told school boards in a memo last week to ask staff and students to take home essential learning materials when they leave for the holidays.

Despite the Education Ministry telling them to be prepared for remote learning, the Directors of Education for the two largest local school boards in Chatham-Kent expect their schools to reopen after the Christmas break.

According to Lecce, he asked all belongings be sent home, so students and educators are prepared for all scenarios.

“We believe that our yellow state of Covid-19 here has made us very safe and that, at this point, we have no indication that we would locally be closing or changing our delivery come January,” said Deb Crawford, the St. Clair Catholic District School Board’s Director of Education.

She added students should bring home their learning materials and personal items in order to be ready to pivot when the time comes in January if need be.

“We’re operating on the idea that we’ll be well-prepared for any change that possibly comes our way, but we would be hoping and, at this point, thinking that the schools will be open again in a face-to-face mode,” said Crawford.

John Howitt, the Lambton Kent District School Board’s Director of Education, said a holiday break is very welcome at this time after four months of very focused attention on protocols and safety within school buildings.

“We know that uncertainty can create an environment where people might not be able to rest, that there’s a wonder and worry about what it’s going to look like Jan. 4.,” said Howitt.

He noted neither he nor Crawford has control over the decision on Jan. 4 but is confident students knowing they have their personal belongings will make things easier on them.

“We do, however, have the ability to help people be prepared for either eventuality,” said Howitt. “Through that preparedness, we’re hoping to provide that stability for people to be able to rest because they know that they have their personal belongings and learning materials home with them should be they be required.”

While students are now home for the holidays, classes are set to resume on Jan. 4.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News