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Back to school arrives with affordabilty, AI, climate change issues

Most families, however, are focused on the usual change of routines
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Students await their bus on Douglas Highway Tuesday morning for the first day of the 2023-2024 school year. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Students across much of Canada are packing lunches and slinging on backpacks today as they bid farewell to summer vacation and gear up for another school year.

Parents and teachers say they’re expecting a new crop of issues to affect classroom learning this year, including generative AI technology, affordability and climate change. For some students, however, the first day of school experience remains largely unchanged year after year.

“I want it to still be summer,” said nine-year-old Harrison Halliday, who’s entering Grade 5 with a healthy dose of apathy.

Harrison’s dad, Bill Halliday, was far more optimistic as he dropped his two sons off at their Toronto school this morning.

“The days will be spent without childminding and I’ll be able to work and not stress about what they’re doing and keeping them off screens,” Halliday said. “God, that’s going to be good. I think it’s good that they’re active and going to be with their friends again.”

Meanwhile, Sid and Mukta Kanasker and their daughter Kashvi said they were excited for her to enter the fourth grade, despite the typical nerves that come with the uncertainty of a new year.

“I think coming back after two months, of course, there is anxiety with which class she will go and how the new teacher would be,” Sid Kanasker said. “But I think the school is great.”

While across much of the country it’s set to be a first day of school like any other, those in parts of Canada ravaged by wildfires return to a much different landscape.

The government of British Columbia has said no schools were damaged by the fires that tore through parts of the province, but that doesn’t mean students will be unaffected.

The flames passed close by some schools in Kelowna, B.C., leaving destruction in their wake.

For residents of Yellowknife, however, summer break has been extended.

Typically, students would have returned to their classrooms on Aug. 28, but the city is still under an evacuation order as fires continue their burn, so school will have to wait.

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