Nfld. & Labrador

Here's how these kindergarten students (and their parents) feel about starting school in 2020

For many students, back to school is just that: returning to something they know. It's uncharted territory for kids starting kindergarten.

'The first week will be the toughest for him, but … I think he's going to do wonderful'

Four-year-old Jaxon Drover is ready for school, with his superhero masks to match his backpack. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Where does the time go? How is this day here already? 

They're ready, they are so ready. Right?!

These are all thoughts parents of kids going to kindergarten have said to themselves, or aloud, at one point or another. 

It's a back-to-school year like no other, but an even wilder ride for kids who are starting school in 2020, amid a pandemic. 

CBC NL tagged along with a few families, as their kids embarked on a whole new chapter. 

Positive attitude

Four-year-old Jaxon Drover is bringing two masks with him to Gander Academy: one with pandas, and another with his favourite superheroes — Iron Man, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk.

His mom, Katrina Drover, said he still struggles with mask-wearing, so it's something the family works on every evening.

"We explained about the sickness. He still don't know a whole lot about it, other than you know, you have to wash your hands, you have to wear a mask. He knows that he's not allowed to share other toys and things like that," Drover told CBC's Garrett Barry.

On Thursday, Jaxon will be taking the bus, and Drover said she is feeling the butterflies.

"I'm really nervous," she said. 

"It's been a long time since he's even been in a store. Probably six months or longer. And so to send him off to school without me, is a little bit nerve-racking."

Katrina Drover thinks her son, Jaxon, is going to soar. (Submitted by Katrina Drover)

She's also trying to be positive and maintain some of the magic for her son's first day of kindergarten. 

"I think once he gets into the class and once he sees his teacher and his friends, and he rides the bus for the first time and he gets the routine of it … he's pretty resilient when it comes to that," she said.

"The first week will be the toughest for him, but after this week, I think he's going to do wonderful."

Bring on the normalcy

Tracy and Fred Roche are parents of two daughters, one in Grade 1 and one in kindergarten.

They're excited but remaining "cautiously optimistic" this year with the low prevalence of COVID-19 cases in the province and say they'll follow the lead of Health Minister John Haggie and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald if there is a second wave of the virus. 

Ally Roche, left, is heading to kindergarten, while her older sister, Ella, is off to Grade 1. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

"Certainly if it broke out in our school I'm sure they would close it down, right? We would be nervous then," Tracy told CBC's Meg Roberts. 

"I'm excited to go back, because it seems like such a thing that you don't go into a public place. That was a bit weird when it all sort of opened up a few months ago. But I think the girls will be excited to get back together with their friends and their teachers. So I'm looking forward to some normalcy today."

With school bags and lunch boxes packed up and ready to embark on a new year, both Ella Roche and Ally Roche said they're happy to go to school.

All the feels

Jennifer and Adam Quilty are sending their two children back to school as well. Hope Quilty is heading to her first day of kindergarten, while her older brother Joseph is going to Grade 5. 

Jennifer Quilty said she feels safe in her children's return to school, but added there's still a lot of stress on parents.

"I've seen pictures of their classrooms, and it's nice to know that there are a lot of rules put in place so that their safety is the main concern, though it is very stressful and it's not how I want to send my last baby to kindergarten at all," she told CBC's Heather Gillis.

Hope Quilty is ready for her first day of kindergarten. (Heather Gillis/CBC)

Quilty, an early childhood educator, is among those parents who are accompanying their kindergarten-age children to school on the first day. 

She says it's "phenomenal" that parents are allowed inside on the first day.

"[For] children and their parents, this is a milestone for them. To not be able to see them to go on their first day of school it would be heartbreaking for so many. So, as a mom, I'm overjoyed that we can actually go in," said Quilty.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Garrett Barry, Mike Moore, Heather Gillis and Meg Roberts


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