New Brunswick schools to open next week for locker, desk clear-out

School districts in New Brunswick are poised to open elementary, middle and secondary schools as early as next week to allow students and families to collect personal belongings left behind as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move comes just weeks after teachers and education staff were allowed similar access to facilities.

Education minister Dominic Cardy has said schools in New Brunswick will remain closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year, regardless of the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

In a letter to parents in Anglophone School District – South, dated April 29, superintendent Zoe Watson said the collection process in that district could begin Monday.

For K-5 and K-8 schools, and potentially some middle schools, parents or guardians will be asked to pick up items, the letter states.

“Some schools may package up the items in a bag and label for quick pick-up,” Watson wrote.

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She said high school students will be allowed to clean out their own lockers. Dates, times and procedures will be communicated to families by the principals of each school.

Watson told Global News in a follow-up interview that New Brunswick’s efforts in flattening the COVID-19 curve have been crucial to the plans.

“We had a lot of communication from parents to do this a few weeks ago, a month ago,” said Watson. “And we didn’t feel that the time was right.”

Letters have already begun circulating in Anglophone School District – East.

A message to families from Riverview High School said its locker clean-out will take place over four days starting May 5. Half-hour windows are set aside for students, who will be sorted by grade and last name.

Both districts say safety measures including handwashing and sanitizing and physical distancing must be observed. They say facial protection is optional but encouraged.

The procedures have been approved by Public Health.

The experience with teachers picking up their things proved to be “a good dry run” for when it came time for the students’ turn, according to Gregg Ingersoll, the superintendent of Anglophone School District East.

“We had guidelines that we had for (teachers). We didn’t want them stopping, talking to their colleagues either,” Ingersoll said.

Anglophone School District West sent a brief note to families on April 27, noting clear-out plans were being established “with the hopes that a short student visit can occur at a determined time next week.”

“This will be an optional opportunity and students will not be required to visit the school if families prefer they don’t,” the message said.

In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for Anglophone School District North said their procedures will begin Monday.

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