As of mid-March, all the schools in New Brunswick have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but now students are back to clear out their lockers and desks for the summer.
At Hampton High School, the process of retrieving items started with cars lining up at the front and back entrances to the school. A member of school staff gathered names and the contents of lockers were brought out to vehicles in black garbage bags.
“Staff member just came, threw my things in the trunk,” said Grade 12 student Patrick Herron. “And I didn’t have a whole lot, so I’m on my way.”
Principals drafted plans for each school and were responsible for sharing those plans with families. Plans had to meet certain safety guidelines, according to Anglophone School District South Superintendent Zoe Watson.
She said the decision to allow students to retrieve personal items now coincided with New Brunswick’s success in being able to limit the spread of the virus.
Some schools, including Hampton High School, were expected to complete their clear out in one day. Others were spreading the process over a number of days, depending on the size and layout of each individual school.
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Many schools also offered an evening pick-up option for families of essential workers, Watson said.
Many middle and high schools are also allowing students to retrieve their own items, with restrictions in place like physical distancing and a limit on the number of individuals allowed into a facility at once.
“We have the (COVID-19) signage from (Public) Health up on the door,” Watson said. “So those four questions are being pointed to and people are being asked to respond to those questions themselves.
“We’re not anticipating any problems.”
Elementary schools and select others were expected to utilize a curbside or auditorium pick-up where items had already been bagged and labelled.
Students and parents in Hampton said they were not concerned about having someone else pack their things.
“I don’t think I would have wanted to enter the school myself,” Herron said. “I’m just going to clean everything down myself.”
“I mean, the other way around, you’d have however many hundred different people coming in and out of the building,” said Greg Hoyt, who was picking up items for a Grade 11 student. “This way it minimizes that and hopefully keeps the level of infection down.”
Teachers and staff were allowed to retrieve their belongings last month.