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Students Head Back To Class

There are still a couple weeks of summer left – but tell that to the thousands of kids who headed back to school Tuesday.

The two-month-long vacation is over and youngsters had to get up early, throw on their backpacks and return to class.

Police warned people to drive carefully starting Tuesday, as there’s 22 per cent more traffic on the roads after Labour Day compared to the summer months.

Motorists should be particularly cautious in school zones, since children are often so excited their first week back to class they don’t think about road safety. Police launched a two-week back-to-school road safety campaign, and had a special message for kids getting back into the routine.

“Always look both ways before you cross the street,” said Const. Stephen Burns of Traffic Services. “It takes a second for a motor vehicle to see you. If you do get struck, only one person wins. It’s always the motorist because the car’s a lot bigger than you are.”

Police say zero tolerance is in effect for drivers who break the law in school zones. The penalty is a $490 fine and six demerit points for anyone failing to stop for a school bus with flashing lights.

It’s not just parents and kids who are nervous as the school bell rings – their teachers often feel a bit apprehensive as well. Louisa Donelan , who teaches Grades 3 and 4 at Ogden Junior Public School, says the first day is often nervewracking for both teachers and kids because it’s the first time they’re meeting each other.

“So we do things to get to know each other and make sure that friendships form on the very first day of school so everybody is comfortable for the rest of the year,” Donelan said.

For students from junior kindergarten to Grade 8, the first day back will be more rigorous than in previous years. A new addition to the provincial curriculum means they’ll have to perform 20 minutes of daily physical activity aside from physical education class.

Experts say it’s an important step in getting Ontario kids more active. According to parent group People for Education, only 36 per cent of Ontario elementary schools have a full- or part-time physical education teacher.

The provincial government is reportedly willing to look into increasing physical education requirements in high school as well, but not at the expense of academics.