The Covid-19 containment order on the Kátł’odeeche First Nation attempted to put a damper on Halloween spirits over the weekend as children were not allowed to go trick-or-treating.
However the Chief Sunrise Education Centre brought the special day to many homes throughout the reserve to ensure they had something to celebrate.
Since Oct. 19, KFN has been under a strict containment order that is expected to stretch into Nov. 14. Along with the closure of the school and orders that people must remain within their own households. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola made the strict order that students could not trick-or-treat this year and had to ensure Halloween celebrations were held within the household.
School principal Deborah Reid said the public health order disappointed many young people.
“I know that they (students) were really upset by that (order) because it is something they look forward to every year,” Reid said. “Because we are also not having school, we also weren’t able to do some of our in-school Halloween activities, either like pumpkin carving, face painting and other things.”
Reid said she came up with the idea on the Thursday leading into the weekend to make a call-out for Halloween candy to be dropped off at her home to deliver to the children so that they could remain in self-isolation as required.
“We were really trying to encourage people not to be tempted to come over because it would be tempting to break the Covid-19 confinement order and come over (to Hay River) and put yourself at risk,” Reid said. “Everybody wants to make the kids happy and they’re used to coming over here anyway. But I wanted to make sure they knew that we got them covered this time.”
After putting a post on the Hay River Community Events page on Facebook, she said businesses and individuals quickly dropped off candy and goodies. By Saturday noon, Reid counted two-and-a-half truckloads of candy to the school and with staff assistance divided them with a list of all the kids that were impacted by the confinement order on top of other children who live on the reserve but who don’t attend the education centre.
There was also some healthy food thrown into the mix as Food First and Northmart provided cases of fruit to help with the effort.
On Halloween night, Reid and some staff volunteers made the round to about 55 children and left the treats at the door steps for the students to emerge and show off their costumes.
“We delivered to all of the families and everybody that I had on my list,” she said. “The ones that were home ran to the door and a of them came out with their costumes down which was cute.”
Reid said that the physical distancing aspect of Halloween in the community this year has been part of an overall attempt by the school to provide quality learning as best as she can while students are at home.
“Were doing the best we can,” she said of the education provided. “We put out remote learning packages and a lot of them are paper pencil based because the access to the internet is limited in some of the homes.”
Teachers try to check in with families at least every other day to ensure they are keeping up with studies and sometimes hold book readings over the phone. Facetime sessions are also often held.
Much of the effort means having to work more closely with parents who she said have been exceptional in helping to make the education process run smoothly and being accessible.
She said that having children contained at home and away from school does present challenges to energy levels that they draw from one another.
“Kids are tired,” she said. “When they they come to school they come for the social as well as for the learning but when they’re just sent home, I feel that they’re drained.”
“I also want to retain that sense of belonging to the school because it is so easy to get disconnected from your school. Then when it comes time to come back when school is open again, it might feel like you’re not part of anything.”