Snow was not enough to rain down on the parade of staff and students who are eagerly awaiting the return to in-person learning on Monday.
Students in London, along with the rest of Ontario, were allowed to disconnect from virtual classrooms as the province began its latest round of school reopenings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The day was accompanied by a massive snowfall covering much of southwestern Ontario, leading to a number of bus cancellations in the London area.
Heavy snow, bus cancellations to start back to school in London, Ontario. Region
At Riverside Public School in west London, dozens of families could still be seen making the winter journey to class.
Principal Kristin Lynds says the number of students who showed up, despite the weather, shows how eager the school community was to get back.
“The energy and excitement is really coming through the halls this morning, with, of course, the fresh snow falling,” Lynds said.
“Living in London, Ontario, we know these snow storms are coming…we went out early to prepare and get snow cleared.
Grade 2 teacher Marcy Dilamarter saw the homecoming as a celebration and felt like Mother Nature was marking the occasion with a snow flurry for the toddlers.
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“Students really like the snow. There’s always that extra level of excitement for them,” Dilamarter said.
For Dilamarter, in-person learning brings an extra layer of teaching confidence and says she noticed a smooth transition into the classroom as soon as her students walked in.
“This morning was a bit like the first day of school, but without the stress of not knowing your students,” Dilamarter said.
“We’ve been apart for a month now, and I felt really, really excited to be back with them. You know your kids. At this time of year, you know what they need, and despite our efforts online, it is very difficult to give them what they need.
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Despite the weather, most schools in the area remained open, but the Thames Valley District School Board announced on Monday morning that some schools were to close “due to a shortage of staff”.
Few other details were shared in the tweet announcing the news, but the TVDSB said affected schools “will communicate this information directly to families”, adding that the closures were “local decisions”.
Families with TVDSB students, including those at Riverside Public, are still being offered a remote learning option when schools reopen.
When the Department for Education unveiled its preparations for the return to in-person learning last week, it was announced that schools could alternate between in-person and remote days or combine classes, if necessary, to minimize closures due to virus-related staff absences. .
A number of other plans have been developed by the province to prepare for any potential disruption caused by the Omicron variant, including the deployment of rapid antigen testing to all schools in Ontario and the planned delivery of 3 000 additional HEPA filters for schools.
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