New schoolroom space at Shamrock Centre

Pandemic risk level drops from red to orange – meaning students can return to classrooms


Yellow buses rolled in, while students strolled along the snowy sidewalks, as many youngsters returned to school in a whole new way this week.

Some went to Killarney School as usual – while others were destined for classes at a re-vamped Shamrock Centre.

That’s because remote learning is no longer mandatory for students, and it’s time to get together once again with classmates. 

This follows the recent announcement from Prairie Mountain Health Region that the pandemic risk level had been decreased from Red to Orange, effective January 18, said school principal Terry Beazley. 

And the principal could not be happier.

“It’s a wonderful day, and I have been telling everyone that,” said Beazley on Tuesday morning. “Today is the first day every student can be back in school since last March.”

But in order to create adequate social distancing for students, the school division was spurred to rent additional space at the mostly deserted Shamrock Centre, he said.

“Mayor Rick Pauls had offered us the Shamrock Centre Hall back in early fall in case we ever needed it,” said Beazley. “When these restriction changes took place, it all came together for us. We pay a monthly rent to the Shamrock, for the use of the main hall, and the lounge upstairs, for now.”

Three classes of Killarney School’s junior high students began attending the Shamrock Centre for classes on Monday. These included Mrs. Millan’s Grade 7 class, Mrs. Nichol’s Grade 7/8 class, and Mr. Pugh’s Grade 8 class.

“The in-town students from those classes will walk to the Shamrock Centre,” said Beazley. “For bus students, buses will stop at the Shamrock Centre in the morning, prior to dropping the rest of the students at the school.  Buses will pick up students at the Shamrock Centre at 3:10 p.m., and then proceed to the school for 3:20 p.m. dismissal. The students at the Shamrock Centre will have access to all of the same programming (French, Band, etc.).”

Tuesday was the first day for high school students to return to class at Killarney School, he said, while some continue to work remotely, if they choose.

“Around three-quarters of the high school students are back, and hopefully that number will grow,” said Beazley. “I think it’s been very positive today. They are happy to be back. We saw a lot of smiling high school students today. Some are a little nervous too, about getting social again, and about COVID.”

Online and remote learning, however, has proved to be a challenge for a number of his students, he added.

 “The high school students have been learning remotely since early November, and many of them are really struggling,” said Beazley. “It wasn’t working great for a lot of kids last spring. We lost a few – more than a handful – of students over the last year. And we are hoping to get these students re-engaged in school. They will hear from their classmates how it’s going. We have been trying to get in contact with them.”

Principal Beazley and vice-principal Erica Hilhorst, along with other staff, worked very hard since last Thursday/Friday in order to prepare classrooms and organize transportation changes, such as busing to the Shamrock Centre.

“There was lots of back-and-forth, making sure everything is working,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the flexibility and dedication of everyone who works here, and who has been rolling with the changes, and going the extra mile.”

Keeping the kids in school is the goal, he said.

“We felt it was imperative to bring them back for their academic and social/emotional well being,” said Beazley. “And getting them back is great. But we still have to stay focused on sanitizing, on social distancing, and wearing masks at all times. And if you have symptoms, stay home. If people do these four things, we can continue moving forward.”

NEW HOME FOR NOW – Busloads of students arrived on Monday morning at the Shamrock Centre with bags of their books and belongings from Killarney School.

SET UP AT THE SHAMROCK – Members of Mike Pugh’s Grade 8 class give the camera a wave as they settle into their new classroom in the banquet hall of the Shamrock Centre. Students and staff are getting used to their new digs and are happy to be back to in person classes.


STREET HOCKEY IN THE PARKING LOT – Teacher Kendall Jonnson took the kids outside for Phys. Ed. on a chilly Tuesday morning this week outside the Shamrock Centre. The Grade 7 and 8 students at the Shamrock Centre will be enjoying mostly outside physical education during the duration of their stay at the recreation facility.