Quebec is ready open up elementary schools again, parents not so much.
Students [children ages 4 to 13] will be subject to physical distancing, frequent handwashing and carefully co-ordinated school days spent in large part at their desks while school officials keep up with cleaning, disinfection and following public health guidelines.
"We're welcoming them back to a new normal, but we are welcoming them back as just our students. Our personalities haven't gone out the window. We're still going to be welcoming them with a big smile, making sure they feel safe, they feel comfortable."
Some schools have prepared videos to prepare parents and kids for the reality -- teachers donning goggles, masks and gloves; taped arrows on the floor to remind students of the two-metre distancing rule; playground equipment closed off with caution tape. Common areas like libraries, gyms and cafeterias will be closed, and pickup and dropoffs will be closely monitored.
About 80 per cent of students have requested buses, which due to distancing rules can't fit children from more than 12 households per bus. As with teachers and staff, bus drivers will also have to be outfitted with protective gear. [There are normally up to 78 kids on our bus route to school, while in Ontario they said max 6 kids per bus...]
Quebec has not made returning to school mandatory, and Murray said just over one-third of the region's 3,000 English students have registered to return.
While public health officials have set the maximum number of students per class at 15, most Quebec classrooms can't hold more than 10 or 12 while respecting distancing measures, which could pose a problem come September. "It's a trial run. It's a way to prepare for September," Murray said. "But pragmatically, if schools are opened in September under these conditions, we'd need to triple or quadruple the number of school spaces." It may not even be practical now, Murray acknowledged.
Another issue the board is looking to deal with is the elimination of breakfast and lunch programs that Murray said many students depended on for adequate nutrition. He noted that one of the government's original justifications for reopening "was to restore the kind of services, other than teaching, that schools provide for their students."
The Western Quebec School Board will open fully on Tuesday after teachers and staff undergo personal protective equipment training Monday. Alain Guy, the board's chairman, said only about 14 per cent of its 3,875 enrolled elementary students are expected back next week.
Here in Ontario schools stay closed until May 31st until decided otherwise. However the only thing my wife is excited about is that it won't be mandatory to send the kids back, they're staying home, thanks but no thanks.
Good news for marine life
Oceanographer David Barclay from Dalhousie University says the decline of sound pollution is roughly down by 50 per cent. “It’s been getting quieter at a faster rate in the last month. We are seeing a decrease in about four dB (decibels), which is about half, 50 per cent reduction,”
Barclay found this decline using sound monitors off the west coast of Vancouver Island and in the Georgia Strait. His findings were first published in The Narwhal and are currently under academic review. Similar research was conducted after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. Researchers found that the drop in sea traffic resulted in a dramatic decline in stress hormones for the North Atlantic right whales.
Vergara specializes in Canada's endangered Saint Lawrence Belugas, which are down to only 800 in the wild. She tells CTV News that noise is one of the main factors that prevents these whales from recovering.
One of B.C.’s most threatened species could be facing an unprecedented respite during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The southern resident killer whales who spend their summers in the waters of the Salish Sea are listed as endangered with just 73 members left, and are facing a triple threat from pollution, a lack of food and marine noise caused by humans. That third factor, however, has all but disappeared during the pandemic.