ONTARIO’S MISSISSAUGA — In anticipation of the first school year to begin without COVID-19 restrictions since the epidemic hit, children lined up outside a school in the Toronto region on Tuesday morning as they eagerly spoke and giggled as they waited for the bell to ring.
A little distance away, groups of parents caught up with one another; some had dogs and young children with them as they stood outside the entrance to Mississauga, Ontario’s Westacres Public School.
“It’s so lovely to run into the old faces again… Mansi Vagt, whose four-year-old son was entering senior kindergarten, said: “I believe it’s one of the things I’m proudest about, the sense of community that we kind of get back from trying to return to normal life.”
She added that although her son started the previous school year in person and wearing masks, he was forced to convert to remote learning in January due to the COVID-19 wave, which was fueled by the Omicron variation. Now that he’s returning in person, she said, he’s “thrilled.”
“It’s just really good to see the kids back at school and back with their classmates and back with their teachers,” Vagt said. “It’s just extremely necessary to be cautious and conscious of any future developments in the epidemic, including potential new varieties.”
“It’s a very different world than their being online and shackled to a screen,” the author says.
For the first time since the start of the global health crisis, the start of the school year will see students in the province able to attend class without wearing a mask, and in-person instruction will take precedence over remote options. Classes will resume on Tuesday or Wednesday depending on the district.
Since the province’s education minister emphasized the need for a return to the “whole student experience” earlier in the summer, students will also have access to extracurricular activities.
The return to in-person instruction offers good structure after a much-needed vacation during the summer, according to Julie Kalantzakos, who dropped off her four children at Westacres on Tuesday.
While her two eldest children, an eight-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, “simply rushed off this morning, happy,” she said, her two youngest children, twin boys who are five years old, were “a little worried” about returning to school.
Everyone, according to Kalantzakos, “is ready to get back into the swing of things and some order, and for the kids themselves, it’s just to see their friends and school is their second home.”
When it comes to COVID-19 standards, everyone’s degree of comfort varies, and Kalantzakos said she encourages her kids to respect others’ boundaries. We’re ready for a regular school year, she declared.
The twin 10-year-old daughters of Lynda Dalzell said they were looking forward to starting school again on Tuesday.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce stated on Tuesday that he anticipates pupils “to stay in school all through June in a much more stable atmosphere” in response to a question regarding the possibility of spread in schools.
The province, according to opposition legislators, hasn’t done enough to encourage youngsters to get their COVID-19 vaccinations in time for the start of the school year.
I worry that the government isn’t prioritizing this issue adequately. It’s unquestionably essential to maintaining the viability of our institutions, said Marit Stiles, education critic for the NDP, on Tuesday.