Blustery beginning to the new year at Killarney School

Stormy conditions cancel last two school days of first week back


Frigid and blustery conditions kept students in for recess and cancelled their returning school buses on the first day back to school on Tuesday, following another extended pandemic Christmas break.

“It’s been quite the week,” said Killarney School principal Terry Beazley on Thursday. “We had buses cancelled the first afternoon back and no school again today (due to extreme wind chill). Plus we’ve got a few COVID cases, so it’s been an interesting start that’s for sure.” 

Principal Beazley said that things, Public Health wise, have changed completely from what they were in December. 

“In terms of what we report, what we don’t report, contact tracing – everything is completely out the window,” he said. “We don’t have to do any contact tracing anymore. We’re not allowed to tell people what grade cases are in. Before we had to do that.” 

Beazley said that since the end of the school day on Wednesday that they have learned of a potential six positive cases of COVID-19 at Killarney School. 

“What we’re going to do starting tomorrow (Friday), and this is something new, we are going to be posting the number of cases we have (in school) that we know of from K-4, 5-8, and 9-12,” he said. “We will be doing that every Friday. All the schools in the division are going to start that this week, so it will be on our school website. It will be just the number of cases, and we only know if the parents self-report. So we’re really encouraging people to be forthcoming and open with us about that.” 

The principal said they’d be keeping up this COVID dashboard and keeping track of the COVID-19 cases that there are in the school, to the best of their ability. 

“The dashboard two days ago said none, and today it says one. I know it’s more than that – significantly more than that,” he added. “And probably the number is bigger than I know because not everyone is letting us know or getting tested. So we’re in a completely different world than we were a month ago. Our community went from having hardly any cases at all, to what I consider a whole whack of them right now. So that’s going to spill over into the school, there’s no question.” 

The school will be reporting their confirmed COVID-19 case numbers on their website,, today.

“So, while reporting the numbers, if our absenteeism gets to a high rate then we reach out to Public Health, and they give us some further direction,” he explained. “There’s no specific number though. It’s tough when people want clearer answers and direction, and I thought at this point we’d have a clearer picture about what’s happening, but it’s getting foggier not clearer.”

The school’s office staff have a running record of how many kids are away every day, but Beazley’s the first to admit that the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

“The problem with our software is that I can get a number, like I know there were 63 K-8 kids away yesterday, but what it doesn’t say is the reason they were away,” he said. “So it’s hard to know how many kids are sick even, never mind with COVID.” 

Despite all the COVID related concerns, the general mood of those returning to school was really good, said the principal. 

“There is always some anxiety, especially around some young people. This COVID stuff has not helped them in that regard,” he added. “But we had people meeting them at the door and welcoming them back, and things like that. Our attendance was pretty good too.” 

Beazley said the attitude of staff and students has been pretty positive, and they were all glad, for the most part, that the at home remote learning didn’t last longer than a week. 

“So we definitely saw the return to school as a positive thing, but we are all struggling with trying to find a way to live with COVID, and live with COVID around us more than it was before,” he said. “People would have been freaking out about any cases a year ago. And now we’ve got cases in school and close contacts, and all those rules have changed, and we’re still allowed to have basketball games and spectators. In some ways it’s good that we’re getting a bit back to normal, but at the same time it kind of goes against everything you were told to do even a few months ago.”

Killarney School continues to adapt and plan. They’ve looked at separating some larger classes in high school, possibly using the library where they’ll be able to spread out more. Gym classes will continue as they had, but now everyone needs to wear masks in gym class as well. 

“This year we are not planning on moving classes outside of Killarney School,” said Beazley, referencing the move to the Shamrock Centre last year for several Grade 7 and 8 students. “We’re going to try to keep everybody here, and classes in one room whenever possible.”

Principal Beazley, who’s retiring at the end of June and announced his intention to do so last spring, says he still enjoys the job as much as he ever has despite all the new challenges the last couple of years.

“It’s got nothing to do with anything other than it’s just time,” said Beazley. “I’m really enjoying my job. I really am, but it’s somebody else’s turn now.”

FROSTY FIRST WEEK – After the wind died down a little on Thursday afternoon, and the temperature warmed up to a sunny -20 degrees, it was time to ponder the first couple days of Killarney School’s new year. Principal Terry Beazley and staff have been feeling the frustration of changing regulations, mixed messaging and increasing COVID cases, but also the mostly positive feeling of welcoming everyone back to school. All this amid wind chill warnings and blowing snow causing school and bus cancellations, and downright frigid temperatures. It’s been quite the first week back to school! 

WHITEOUT AT THE SHAMROCK – Across town, on Tuesday afternoon, blowing snow all but obscured the big Shamrock Centre from view as you drove by. The windy conditions cancelled returning school buses on that first day back to Killarney School, and forced the cancellation of school on Thursday and Friday as well.

UPCOMING RETIREMENT – Principal Terry Beazley is retiring at the end of June after working as principal for Killarney School since 2000.