How after school extracurricular activities will work during the pandemic
Groups and clubs across the north are adjusting
While many families are making plans for back to school this year, some are also thinking about what their children will do after classes are done for the day.
Typical extracurricular activities are changing for children across the region due to the pandemic.
Choirs haven't been able to perform, but Ralph McIntosh, the general manager of the Young Sudbury Singers and the education coordinator at the Sudbury Theatre Centre, says he's hoping there may be some outdoor gatherings this fall where a choir can sing together.
In the meantime, he says singing lessons will continue online.
Children's acting classes will in person, said McIntosh. Children and teachers will be spaced out in the main theatre and everyone will have to wear a mask.
"Because they have to wear the masks, they're going to have to project [their voices] well," he said, and safety precautions will change the way scenes are performed.
"It all has to be verbal," he said. "If you're pretending to have a sword fight, you're still going to have that sword fight at some distance rather than being right in front of each other."
"We want to make sure whatever we're doing, the parents are comfortable with and the students are comfortable with."
At the Dance Dynamics Studio in Thunder Bay, classes have already started. Owner Wendy Holmquist says dancers are glad to be back in the studio and precautions are being taken to make everyone safe.
"Our students are dancing in marked out squares in the studio," she said. "They wear face masks coming and going. We spent a fortune on sanitizing, social distancing equipment and signage. It's very different."
Holmquist says registrations are down about 30 per cent. She says she's fortunate to have another job to help with the expenses.
"Realistically if this was my sole income and I didn't have any other resources, I'd already have my doors shut which I know many studios in Ontario already have unfortunately," she said.
Hockey leagues have 50-player bubbles
As for the upcoming hockey season, some arenas are already open and some kids are already on the ice.
"Our goal is to get kids back out on the ice. We've seen across the north that that is something families and kids want to do," said Jason Marcand, the executive director of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association.
But he has a warning for families: "It's going to be significantly different at the start in particular," he said.
Marcand says due to provincial rules of only allowing a bubble of 50 athletes to play each other, many associations are going to have 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 games, to have fewer people on the ice.
Body contact will be limited, but Marcand says the focus will be on skills development rather than playing games.
Curling games will be played differently as well. The president of the Northern Ontario Curling Association, Bobby Ray, says the rules are changing to help space curlers out.
"Curling is such a social sport so that's where the fear goes when you start talking about the return to play plan is going to be and what our club is going to feel like," he said.
Ray says he's confident clubs are working hard to make the sport safe.
"It's still going to be a valuable experience," he said. "I don't think people will stop curling this year."
But he did say clubs may choose to delay the opening of the season.
With files from Erik White