Boarding in the Midst of a Global Pandemic

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Safety and wellbeing remain primary focus at Pickering College.

With the school year now well underway, boarding students at Pickering College have completed their quarantine and moved onto campus, settling into the daily routine. The boarding program looks a little different this year as each day begins with a COVID-19 screening of students before they can enter the school and interact with others. Classes have been set up for physical distancing, rigorous safety protocols have been implemented, and students and staff are required to wear masks.

The safety of students is always a top priority—especially in light of the current global pandemic

Safely Building Community in 2020

As a school, Pickering College prides itself on building community. With all the protocols in place to keep us safe and apart, the very idea of what we do to come together as a community has had to evolve. For instance, Morning Meeting, an integral part of the Pickering experience, is where students and staff gather together to speak about the news of the day, share information, and reflect on the school’s values and what they mean. Rather than gathering in person as we would traditionally, Morning Meeting has moved to an online format using Zoom, which has continued to be impactful.

Rethinking the Boarding experience

One of the primary reasons families choose a boarding school for their child, besides an excellent academic experience, is for a global experience where they form lifelong friendships with boarders from across Canada and around the world. Pickering College’s boarding program has worked very hard to ensure the family-like atmosphere in boarding is the same as always and strives to keep students as busy as possible in their downtime with supervised on-campus and virtual activities, including:

  • Virtual Board Games Club
  • Fall nature walks
  • Outdoor Frisbee throwing fun and other field games
  • Outdoor movie nights
  • Physically distanced outdoor competitions (Fall Boarding Games)
  • Bonfires
  • Origami
Students form friendships while staying safe

Finally, with students in the boarding program hailing from 30 countries, not everyone has been able to make it to Canada yet due to border restrictions and flight availability. However, these students who are beginning their school year online are still an essential part of the boarding program. They participate in Zoom meetings with their boarding families and the wider boarding program group—so that when they are able to come to Canada, those friendships will already have been well established.

Written by

Pickering College

Pickering College

Founded in 1842, Pickering College is an independent boarding (Grades 7 to 12) and day (Kindergarten to Grade 12) school for boy and girls in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, just 40 minutes north of Toronto. Our programs offer unique opportunities in academics, arts, athletics, global leadership development and community service.<