Tuesday morning the buses were once again rolling. Alarm clocks rang earlier. Dormant backpacks were pulled on. And many parents breathed a sigh of relief.
School was back in session for all government primary schools on Tuesday. John Gray and Clifton Hunter high schools welcome students back today. Most private schools open this week as well.
Melissa Rankine was enjoying the change. Having just dropped her Year 5 daughter off at Red Bay Primary, she stood under a walkway awning, speaking with several other mothers and smiling.
“We’re so happy, we don’t want to leave the school,” she said. “It feels so good to be free.”
She said her daughter was equally thrilled.
“It was a little difficult to get her out of bed this morning, but once she was up, it was nothing but excitement,” she said. “She was excited to see her friends. She was excited to see her new teacher.”
One of the women talking with Rankine was Devon Myles. She said her daughter could not wait to start Year 5.
“She packed everything last night,” Myles said. “I didn’t even have to iron. She ironed her own school uniform.”
There was some trepidation for other students. Karlene Wright was one of a steady stream of parents who lined up at a booth where they could pay for their children’s snacks and lunches. She said her Year 2 son was not sure about engaging with a new teacher.
“He wanted to go back to his Year 1 teacher,” she said. “When he got to the door [of his new classroom], he was a bit hesitant, but then he went in.”
But Merrie-Ann McField, a janitor and aide at the school, said no real meltdowns had taken place.
“Not one child cried,” said McField. “Every child was happy, the parents, the children, everyone. This year is going to be a good year.”
In West Bay, the fleet of buses at Smith’s Transport rumbled onto the road just after 7am.
“It’s back to business,” said operations manager Taron Smith. “It’s a bit of a hustle and bustle.”
He said between 30% and 40% of the students who ride the bus come to the yard where they are parked and board there, rather than waiting to be picked up. During the first day back at school, he said, the excitement of the kids is palpable.
“You do sense it, saying good morning to the kids,” he said. “You see a lot of new faces.”
For Smith, the transition to school days means the end of a summer full of maintenance projects on the buses. “It’s not downtime,” he said.
Nor is it for parents who have to find ways to keep their kids busy during those hot days with no class. At Red Bay, Myles said she would spend the day adjusting.
“I’m going back home to rest,” she said, “until 2:45pm.”