Uplands Elementary School students had a chance to see their teachers Friday — albeit from a distance.
The students haven’t seen their teachers in nearly three weeks due first to spring break and then the suspension of in-person instruction due to social distancing measures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Families were invited to drive by the school grounds from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Friday so students could wave at their teachers and school mascots, all of whom were standing at a distance near the edge of the grounds. It was a bright, sunny afternoon at the school on the Bench and spirits seemed high, as students and teachers called out to each other and passing cars honked in support.
Patricia Mouland, principal of Uplands Elementary School, said she heard from parents afterward who said the gesture meant a lot.
“For [the kids] to be able to just wave at their teachers and hear their teachers call our their names, the parents have expressed that was pretty important for their children’s own emotional well-being,” she said.
The event was also uplifting for teachers and school staff, Mouland said.
“We were really pleased to see so many of our kids,” she said. “The outcome for us was heartwarming, and a little teary at times too.”
One community member expressed concern that the event was not compliant with social distancing rules
“The teachers, and special guests can not possibly stay stationary lined up outside the school and just wave at this many children while ensuring that all attending keep 2 meters distance and avoid physical contact,” wrote Freja Nielsen in an email to The Terrace Standard the day of the drive-past.
“I would like to see this event canceled as it puts our community members at risk and puts a huge strain on our first responders.”
Mouland said school staff were very careful to maintain social distance during the event, and consulted with the RCMP before proceeding.
“Everybody was very aware of the social distancing,” she said. “We also carry that same sense of responsibility to keep our community, especially our vulnerable people, safe.”
The event also had the blessing of the provincial education ministry and Northern Health.