Published Monday, May 11, 2020 6:43AM EDTLast Updated Monday, May 11, 2020 9:35AM EDT
Quebec is the first province to open schools following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and school officials say it will be far from business as usual.
Students are being met by staff wearing masks and in some cases face shields, and they are being told to follow physical-distancing rules and wash their hands frequently.
Attendance isn't mandatory, and some school boards have indicated that most parents are keeping their children home for now.
Schools in the Montreal area, which continues to be hit hard by the novel coronavirus, will remain closed until at least May 25, while high schools and junior colleges won't be back until the fall.
At Ecole St-Gerard in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, southeast of Montreal, children posed for parents' photos on coloured dots painted on the ground outside the school to mark distancing. A school bus pulled in with a lone student aboard.
Marie Fortin watched as her twin seven-year-old daughters each received a squirt of hand sanitizer from a staff member wearing a mask. She said sending her kids to school was "important for their routines."
She said she felt reassured after seeing all the preparations done by staff, including sectioning off classrooms with tape, devising a game around handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting.
"We don't feel unsafe at all," she said.