Students entered Blacksmith Public School on Thursday for the first time in months when Toronto’s public and Catholic boards reopened to in-person learning with the official start of another pandemic school year.
Teachers in orange safety vests led the kindergarten children with masks to school as their excited but nervous parents watched them.
Mgeni Hamed led her two young daughters by the hand, pushing the youngest in a pink plastic car.
“It’s very exciting,” he said with a wide smile.
During the winter, it was “very difficult” to take care of the three children at home and help them learn online.
“You can not imagine”.
Ontario students, some of whom have already returned to school at other meetings, were home longer than their peers across the country, about 26 weeks in total since the pandemic began.
The first day comes because there has already been at least one board confirmed COVID case in a student who had participated in a 9th grade welcome event last week at Riverdale Collegiate Institute.
On Wednesday, Toronto Public Health recommended boards pause extracurricular sports and clubs and field trips until at least the end of September.
“I think it’s prudent,” TDSB President Alexander Brown said at Blacksmith PS, near Jane Street and Steeles Avenue West, before the children arrived.
“His advice now is that we should curb extracurricular activities and field trips with mixed groups at the beginning, because I think there is perhaps concern that we want to have everything in place correctly before moving forward,” he said. .
I didn’t have a timeline for when they could start over “but obviously we want to implement that as soon as possible.”
Ontario’s chief medical officer for health, Dr. Kieran Moore, told reporters at a news conference Tuesday that he is “confident that the school environment itself is safe.”
“We put a lot of precautions. We will see outbreaks, we will see activity in the schools, but they basically reflect what is happening in the community, ”he said.
Hamed’s seven-year-old daughter, Fatma, is heading to second grade and three-year-old Farzana is starting kindergarten. The two girls, dressed in matching navy blue suits and sparkly sneakers, couldn’t wait to enter the building. They were among thousands of Toronto Catholic and public board students who returned to school Thursday.
Hamed said she feels comfortable sending them in person because they are good at washing their hands and wearing their masks. Fatma said, with a big smile, that she is very excited to see her teacher.
The school in person has to continue as long as possible, Hamed said.
“It is better for parents and children.”
Sixty five percent of Ontario children ages 12 to 17 have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is approved by Health Canada for ages 12 and older.
There are no vaccinations for children under 12 years of age.
Boards should have a COVID vaccine disclosure policy for staff.
Sixty-eight percent of TDSB staff completed immunization certifications and of that group 95 percent received double vaccinations.
We’re “giving” them a few days to spare and then all unvaccinated staff will have to do rapid antigen testing twice a week, “said TDSB spokeswoman Shari Schwartz-Maltz.
4th and 5th grade teacher Dina Petitti said she was also “nervous, excited” and “feeling all the feelings” before Blacksmith’s morning bell rang.
The kids will have special activities for the first day, “to reconnect,” as well as a refresher on COVID safety protocols, although most of them are “professionals” at it now.
The TDSB has also called for the COVID vaccine to be part of the mandatory vaccinations needed to attend school.
In early August, the province announced that all learning spaces without a mechanical ventilation system and all kindergarten classrooms will receive a portable HEPA filter by September. The TDSB is committed to installing at least one portable HEPA unit in every classroom, portable and wellness room, regardless of the ventilation system.
All the boards of the province are also obliged to publicly post details of each school on ventilation upgrades and HEPA filters in a report. You can view the ventilation reports of the TDSB, TCDSB and the Peel public and Catholic boards, as well as others in Ontario, on their websites.
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