Ottawa·Photos

Back to school in a pandemic

Two French Catholic elementary schools in Ottawa's Riverside South neighbourhood resumed classes Wednesday, for the first time since the pandemic shut everything down in March.

For students at 2 French Catholic schools in Riverside South, classes have already resumed

Parents balancing nerves, excitement over return to school

CBC News Ottawa

4 months agoVideo
0:40
Parents Karl and Victoria Hefty say they and their daughter have been looking forward to her return to school. 0:40

Two French Catholic elementary schools in Ottawa's Riverside South neighbourhood resumed classes Wednesday, for the first time since the pandemic shut everything down in March.

École élémentaire catholique Bernard-Grandmaître and L'École élémentaire catholique Jonathan-Pitre follow what's called a "balanced calendar" meaning in exchange for a shortened summer vacation, students get time-off in October and May, as well as two weeks off for March break.

However, the earlier start meant less time for staff to prepare for the return of students, leading one parent to express concern about whether the balanced calendar made sense during the pandemic.

Adding to the stress is the fact that Jonathan-Pitre school is a brand new school and Wednesday was its inauguration.

The Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est, which oversees both schools, allowed media access inside Jonathan-Pitre on Wednesday morning to get a sense of the changes implemented in response to COVID-19.

Here's what it looked like:

The Lamoureux family drops off five-year-old Audrey at Jonathan-Pitre. “As a parent of a little one, I have no concerns whatsoever about it. I think she’s just excited and I want to be excited for her. It’s been six months of no school and I think she’s really excited to go back to it,” said Audrey’s mom, Isabelle Lamoureux, who is an intensive care nurse. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
Physically separated desks are the norm at Jonathan-Pitre in Ottawa, where students have now started classes. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
Staff at Jonathan-Pitre installed visual cues to help students maintain physical distancing when they line up to enter the building. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
Plastic shields are installed in the office at Jonathan-Pitre and a public health nurse helped staff on the first day of classes, Aug. 19, 2020. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
A student exits a school bus on the first day of classes at Jonathan-Pitre in Riverside South. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Some Ottawa parents ‘comfortable and confident’ about return to school

CBC News Ottawa

4 months agoVideo
0:49
Isabelle and Mark Lamoureux say they’re confident in the school board and Ottawa Public Health regarding the process of sending their daughter to senior kindergarten this year. 0:49
In addition to being the first day of school for the new academic year, Wednesday was also the inauguration of L'École élémentaire catholique Jonathan-Pitre. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
A student raises their hand during class at Jonathan-Pitre on the school’s first-ever day of classes. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
Victoria Hefty drops off her five-year-old daughter Keatelle. “It’s just another layer of uncertainty. But she’s been really excited and so are we. So we’re balancing both emotions," said Hefty. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
Students are not permitted to drink from the school’s water fountains, but they may use the fountains to fill their own bottles. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
Arrows in the hallway remind students to respect physical distancing while they line up. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
Specific bathrooms are available only to certain grades in an effort to limit the number of students at any given time. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Return to school brings ‘some sense of normalcy,’ superintendent says

CBC News Ottawa

4 months agoVideo
0:44
Jean-François Bard, superintendent of education at the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est, says some parents will be feeling nervous but the return to school represents a return to a new normal. 0:44
Doorways have been converted into two one-way doors to help avoid contact between students. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

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