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Watching for symptoms and anxiety about the unknown: Manitoba’s back-to-school

Click to play video 'Manitoba parent group respond to the first day of school' Manitoba parent group respond to the first day of school
The Manitoba Association of Parent Councils shares their reaction about how the first day back to class went for kids in Manitoba – Sep 9, 2020

Now that the school year has formally started and Manitoba kids are back in the classroom, parents and teachers will be on high alert for signs of COVID-19 in their children.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Jason Kindrachuk told 680 CJOB that the pandemic means adults should watch for any shifts away from normalcy in children.

“Are your children showing any signs of fever or general malaise? Are they seeming a little bit more lethargic? Do they have any more aches and pains than usual?

“This is the year that we have to have kids staying at home if they show any signs that are different from what ‘normal’ usually is in those children,” he said.

Kindrachuk said that determining whether signs and symptoms fall under that description of “normalcy” could be harder to differentiate in kids with allergies, in which case a COVID-19 test might be the best option.

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Click to play video 'Manitoba parents on back to school' Manitoba parents on back to school
Manitoba parents on back to school – Sep 9, 2020

On top of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, Manitoba parents are also dealing with the usual stress and excitement that comes with their kids’ first few days of school.

Parent Colleen Creasy, who has two children in elementary school, told 680 CJOB that getting back to the routine was a bit of a relief — both for her and the kids.

“I think I’m finally getting over those nerves,” she said.

Creasy said that her kids were excited about their first day and that they were happy to see their friends again.

“My son is a hugger, and he very much likes to hug his friends, so that was a hard part for him. He’ll have to find a new way to connect when they see each other on the school grounds. ”

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Creasy said her son, who is now in Grade 2, told her last year was “much easier,” as students were allowed to play more freely, as opposed to being kept in specific areas for safety reasons.

Click to play video 'Back to School in Manitoba' Back to School in Manitoba
Back to School in Manitoba – Sep 8, 2020

Brenda Brazeau of the Manitoba Association of Parent Councils (MAPC), told Global News there’s definitely some anxiety and stress among many parents due to the unknown nature of the pandemic.

“We did hear a lot of things … that parents were concerned about their schedules, parents were concerned about the cohorting.”

Other concerns included whether kids, especially teachers, need to be monitored to ensure they’re not standing together in groups, she said. she said.

“I think it differs from an elementary school to, say, a junior high vs. a senior high. The older kids, it’s going to be a little hard,” Brazeau said.

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“They want to hug each other, they want to talk about what happened over the summer, what’s going on — but we also have to remind them that they still have to sanitize their hands.”

Brazeau said she’s had ongoing conversations with her own daughter about safety measures, and that any parents with questions or concerns about navigating the school system during the pandemic are welcome to reach out to the MAPC.

“Anybody can give us a call. They don’t have to be on a parent council. We’ll definitely get back to them as soon as possible.

“It could be the simplest, or it could be something that really needs immediate attention — we’re more than willing to work with the parents and help them work through the school system and though this difficult time.”

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