PEI

'Awesome start' to P.E.I. schools reopening, some educators say

A new school year unlike any other started Tuesday on P.E.I.

'The students all had masks and were very willing to wear them'

John Munro, principal of Belfast Consolidated, wears a mask as he welcomes students on Tuesday morning. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

A new school year unlike any other started Tuesday on P.E.I.

All 62 P.E.I. public schools were shut down in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Although there were many new protocols for teachers to follow, the students seemed to adjust quite quickly," said Maria Lavoie, principal of Gulf Shore Consolidated School in North Rustico, via email to CBC News.

"The students all had masks and were very willing to wear them. Bring on day two!"

The return-to-school plan is a staggered approach. All students started school Tuesday unless they are returning students to to these listed schools. Those students begin Wednesday. 

Each school has its own operational plan that can be viewed online.

Students return to class at Stratford Elementary on Tuesday. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

John Munro, principal of Belfast Consolidated in eastern P.E.I., said the co-ordinated drop-off times made for a smooth start Tuesday morning.

"I wasn't sure really what to expect," Munro said. "But I felt like it was an ordinary day just like any other."

Bloomfield Elementary in western P.E.I., which has 267 students, staggered its start with only the four kindergarten classes starting Tuesday.

All in all, a very awesome start and everyone looking forward to a full return to school tomorrow.— Andrew Stewart

"We felt this was very appropriate for them as they missed both welcome to kindergarten and the kindergarten orientation in the spring," said principal Andrew Stewart in an email to CBC News.

He said it was a good day to do a trial run of all the different measures in place to prevent COVID-19, including masks which are mandatory in certain situations.

"Parents have obviously been practicing with their children at home as it seems to be second nature," Stewart said.

"All in all, a very awesome start and everyone looking forward to a full return to school tomorrow."

The province's plan relies heavily on keeping students in small groups, called cohorts, to lessen the chances the coronavirus is spread.

Reminders for of mask wearing and physcial distancing are plasted on walls at East Wiltshire Intermediate School in Cornwall, P.E.I. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Sanitization efforts have been stepped up in classrooms and on buses. Schools have directional arrows and reminders for physical distancing in the hallways.

Schools are providing a pre-screening checklist to help parents and guardians decide if a student should go to school if they're not feeling well.

The province gave the go ahead for some school sports, but teams will compete against no more than two other schools.

The province also has a website answering frequently asked questions parents and guardians may have.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Shane Ross, Kerry Campbell and Travis Kingdon

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