Mixed emotions as Windsor students go back to school

Students were happy to be back to school Tuesday morning, eager to start the new school year with lapsed COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s very nice,” says grade nine student Lily McConnell.

Villanova student Delaney Gillis was just as enthusiastic, telling CTV News Windsor while waiting for the bus, “I’m pretty excited about that too. It’s gonna be my first year of high school for that.”

Parents were optimistic about the upcoming school year. Samantha Kennedy was thrilled for her young boy, saying, “He’s six and this will be, hopefully, this will be his first full school year so we’re excited and nervous.”

Kennedy hopes nothing, such as another pandemic wave, will disrupt the school year.

“But it’s gonna be okay,” she adds. “Either way it’ll be okay, I think.”

The public board has a plan in place based on guidelines set forth by the Ministry of Health and the local health unit which is 10 pages long compared to 80 pages two years ago.

“It’s basically back to normal,” says Superintendent of Education, Todd Awender. “What we’re hoping is that all of our students are just able to get back in school and feel comfortable.”

With roughly 36,000 students in the system, users say the vast majority are back in class. About 800 of those students eagerly responded to the bell at the new North Star High School in Amherstburg, Ont.

“When I walked in I’m just like, ‘Damn, there’s lockers’ and I look at the gym and I’m just like ‘Whoa.’ The gym is actually two times bigger than Amherst gym,” says one student.

The new school costs about $25 million and merges Western Secondary with General Amherst.

“Scary, but it’s exciting to see both of my friends combine from the different schools,” says former Western Secondary student Brooke Knight.

Many students like Hannah Rusenstrom look forward to taking advantage of the current state of the pandemic.

“It’s a fresh start because in COVID, we didn’t really get to do much at our old school. We couldn’t really do sports or clubs, so it’s kinda nice to have a new school and a fresh start to be able to be on sports teams and the new clubs,” she says.

Some areas of the school, including the gym, still need some work, but Lisa Voakes, a gym teacher at General Amherst for 15 years is more than willing to wait for North Star High School to be fully complete.

“I’m excited for all the new stuff. As soon as our gym is ready, I’m excited for that,” she says. “Everything is new. It’s pretty fun.”

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