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LONDON, ONT. -- Students returning to H.B. Beal Secondary School in London, the first school in the city with a confirmed case of a student with COVID-19, were apprehensive Tuesday morning.
“I’m surprised it did not happen sooner,” student James Campbell-Lair told CTV News. “People are not gonna listen, it’s going to get worse. It’s to be expected."
But Maya Harding, a Grade 12 student, believes the school is safe, on the inside, “We’ve all been super far away from each other, the hallways are basically empty."
Dawn Fyne, a parent who dropped off her son for a morning calculus course at Beal, also has little concern about in-person classes.
But, Fyne is worried about the numbers of students who gather in close proximity on sidewalks in front of the school.
“It’s the outside, if you go in front of the school, you’ll see the kids gathering, they’re gathering in groups."
H.B. Beal Secondary School parent Dawn Fyne speaks in London, Ont. on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. (Sean Irvine / CTV News)
Several students, including Graydon Graat, say a few of their friends did not come to class on Tuesday, “I think it’s three or four that are not going to be here."
Graat says concern about the single COVID-19 case has kept his friends and, more often than not, their parents leery about them attending.
“I think it’s a mixture of both. I know a few kids said their parents are a lot more scared of it, so they are staying home because of that."
Still Graydon’s brother Hunter believes school is safe, for now.
“I think we can just continue going on, unless there are more reported cases. Maybe the just the co-hort, or the whole school gets shut down, if it gets worse."
But Maya Harding thinks it’s just a matter of time, “I think that will be probably be going back online sometime soon. If there is more cases, probably sooner than later."
Grade 12 student Maya Harding speaks outside H.B. Beal Secondary School in London, Ont. on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. (Sean Irvine / CTV News)
In the interim, for parents like Scott Hardie, keeping his son in school is the goal, “There’s definitely hesitation, but right now we’re trusting the numbers.”
Yet, Hardie says it won’t take much to change his mind.
“A spike in numbers within the school, a spike in numbers within the community, so right now we’re taking it day-by-day.”
And it seems it took less for some parents, Hardie tells CTV News that on Tuesday, in his son's class of 18 only five students were present.
And day-by-day is the thought of student Caelan Rafferty and he sums up the current situation.
“One out of 2,000 kids. If they get the one kid, and isolate, it’s not that big of a deal. Well it is a big deal, but it could be worse."
Still, at the end of the day Tuesday, the Thames Valley District School Board confirmed Beal saw "about double the typical rate of absenteeism."