Thousands of Quebec students return to school in the shadow of COVID-19

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When the order came to Isabelle Grenier to close the doors of her school last winter, the reality of the coronavirus had not yet taken hold.

At the time, there were only 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the province and there was not a single death linked to the virus.

But even as the months of imprisonment wore on, even as casualties rose from tens to hundreds to over 5,700 dead in Quebec alone, there was never any doubt in Grenier’s mind: school would come back.

“He had to come back, there was no other way,” said Grenier, the director of Philippe-Labarre School, as she welcomed the children on the first day of their return to elementary school in East Montreal. “I’ve been preparing for this day since we closed on March 13th. And I’m glad it’s finally happened. ”

It was an unusual first day of class Thursday for the 360 ​​kids who attend school on Fletcher Ave: smiling kids under their masks as they reunited with their classmates after five months apart, parents awkwardly handing them over children to staff as reporters filmed the scene. But Grenier seemed determined to make it as enjoyable as possible, leaning in and engaging the kids with questions, jokes, and the reassurance that everything – as the tagline says – will be fine.

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