VICTORIA -- While concerns over COVID-19 are present as schools reopen on Vancouver Island, many parents and students are excited for classes to resume at Dunsmuir Middle School in Colwood.

The school’s first students, all in Grade 6, arrived at the school Thursday morning. They’ll switch off with Grade 7’s this afternoon while Grade 8’s will arrive on Friday morning. The middle school’s first full day will begin on Monday.

Liam Hall, a 10-year-old student at the school, said that returning was “weird” but not overly frightening.

“I’m kind of scared but not really because everyone is extra cautious of it,” said the Grade 6 student.

Parents who were dropping off their students, many of whom wore masks, agreed with Liam’s assessment.

“Everyone’s ready,” said parent Tricia Hardey. “I like to think that they’ve, you know, done enough preparations and put enough thought into it or I don’t think we’d be here today.”

“I know the kids are super excited to be back and it’s good to see some of their classmates and get back to some kind of normal,” she said.

dunsmuir school

Dunsmuir Middle School principal Mark Kaercher says that extensive work went into preparing the school for children, and that the first step will be making sure everyone was comfortable with the new environment.

“People are understandably nervous or apprehensive about re-engaging in really anything, let alone school, so we certainly understand and hear that,” he said.

“We’ve done our best to let parents know what we have in place to ensure that our environment is as safe as it can possibly be,” he said.

While daily COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in B.C. during the tail end of summer, parents say they’re aware of the risks but hope that every family is doing their best to keep themselves and everyone else safe.

“At this point I don’t know how optimistically low the numbers are going to stay,” said Catherine Alexander, a parent with children at Dunsmuir.

“I have a sneaking suspicion things are going to go up before they go back down, we just hope people are kind to each other and remember all the rules,” she said.

Moving forward, Kaercher says that the school will be focusing on safety as well as education.

“Our goal is to just make them comfortable – we want to make the environment as safe as can be. School definitely looks different than it did last year, that’s not good or bad it is just our reality and we’re just getting the kids situated to that.” he said.

“We’re all committed to making this work and doing so in as safe a way as we can and offer the very best education we can to our students.”