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New school year begins in New Brunswick amid COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video 'Kids eager to get back to class after being out of school since the COVID-19 pandemic began' Kids eager to get back to class after being out of school since the COVID-19 pandemic began
WATCH: After being out of school since March, kids are eager to get back and for parents and teachers, the new reality of school life during COVID-19 is something they hope students will adjust to. Megan Yamoah has more. – Sep 8, 2020

For the first time since March, buses filled with students lined up at the front steps of New Brunswick’s Nackawic Middle School on Tuesday.

“The kids are getting a little antsy; they have been off long enough,” said father Michael Wilkins.

“They’d like to go back to school.”

Read more: Creative lockers at Moncton’s Beaverbrook School aim to calm students’ first day jitters

Parents said their goodbyes and Tanya Whitney, the school’s principal, checked students in before they reported directly to their homerooms.

The new safety protocols are part of Nackawic Middle School’s operational plan. Each public school was required to develop a plan prior to opening in order to counter the spread of COVID-19.

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Planning lunch was particularly challenging for staff.

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“Kids like to socialize, they need to socialize. They are used to coming out of their classroom and hanging out with kids and hanging out with kids from other classes — that’s just not possible this year,” said Whitney.

Masks are encouraged in younger grades — especially in common areas — but aren’t mandatory for students when they sit at their desk.

Click to play video 'Some teachers say they’re not ready for back-to-school' Some teachers say they’re not ready for back-to-school
Some teachers say they’re not ready for back-to-school – Sep 7, 2020

So when it comes to learning, it’s business as usual in New Brunswick’s classrooms.

But that doesn’t mean schools are not preparing for a potential second wave of the novel coronavirus.

Teachers spent parts of the first day back setting students up with online accounts for remote learning.

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Read more: 2 COVID-19 cases remain active in New Brunswick

The goal is to prevent an early end to classes, such as what happened in the spring.

Each classroom is considered to be a bubble and students within it stay together as a group all day.

“We’re just so excited to have students back in the building. It’s been a long time, so I’m just stoked to be here,” said Juliette Graham, a teacher at Nackawic Middle School.

“I hope that they still give them the one-on-one that they need and they are still interactive with each other,” said mom Jessica Hinton