Winnipeg students return to the classroom

Many students across Winnipeg sharpened their pencils and grabbed their backpacks to return back to school. Edward Djan has more.

It’s the start of the new school year for many students this week. But even three years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, both students and schools are learning to navigate the post-pandemic world.

It was the first day of school for students in the Winnipeg School Division. And if you asked them how their first day went they’ll tell you it was “good”.

“We talked about the rules and the expectations of the classroom,” one student told CityNews.

Matt Henderson, Chief Superintendent at the Winnipeg School Division says while most students may be excited about the first day of school, teachers are on the lookout for anyone who may need more support, especially for those still dealing with the switch to in-person learning.

“Everybody’s feeling good and everybody’s energized,” said Henderson. “We’re making tremendous efforts to really get kids caught up, both in numeracy and literacy, but also just in thinking and feeling good about school and knowing that the adults in the school feel that they’ll be successful.”

Brian O’Leary, superintendent at the Seven Oaks School Division, says he is hoping attendance improves this school year from last where it hovered between 89 and 90 per cent, compared to what they consider their normal rate of 94 per cent.

“Kids are in different boats and some were really well supported, had ample technology, and had fewer periods of remote learning. Other kids were away from school a fair amount,” said O’Leary.

Back to school is a pivotal time for a lot of students even prior to the pandemic, but as some students still get used to not learning from home, there could be some added stress onto kids.

“For those students who are more introverted and more comfortable working on their own, coming back into large groups and being amongst their peers might be a little bit more of a challenge for those students in particular,” said David Mandzuk, Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.

But students aren’t the only ones trying to navigate the new school year.

“Many of these teachers have young children of their own, their own young families of their own. And being there for not only their students, but also being there for their own children through sickness that have come and gone at many different points has been really challenging on people’s mental health.”

For parents though they have little to fear.

“I think the silver lining here is that kids are resilient. They don’t make progress in a straight line. We hope that kids who lost something through COVID are gaining it back,” said O’Leary.

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