There are a few marked changes in the halls of Central Middle School.
Taped to the floor are lanes with arrows along the hallway, stairwells are designated as up or down only and desks are spaced six feet apart. Every hour a voice over the PA system reminds students to wash their hands and sanitizer is a classroom staple.
Monday was the first day back for some students following two months of remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Principal Gillian Braun says between 150 and 160 students at Central Middle School alternating between a Monday, Wednesday in-class schedule, while another group is on a Tuesday, Thursday schedule. At first, students of essential workers were welcomed back for care during the day, then students who were vulnerable learners were invited back and now, about 50 per cent of students are in classes.
“Shout out to Dr. Bonnie Henry because I was really surprised at see the students today and how well versed they are [with social distancing] and what does two metres look like,” says Braun. “The kids look like they know what they’re doing and I think they’re just happy to see each other.”
Shelley Green, superintendent for School District 61 says she was “very surprised” with the number of students back in school. Green says the schools are deep cleaned before students enter the building and touchpoints are sanitized throughout the day.
Braun says there’s been a real sense of coming together from the staff at the school.
“[The teachers] are working collaboratively to help their students and so whatever comes in September, I feel really confident that we have the skills and teamwork to get through that,” she says. “[But] we’re just excited to have our kids back.”