We are three weeks into the school year and its already been one for the books.

Amidst an ongoing pandemic, this certainly hasn't been a typical school start-up. Classrooms across the province look very different this year, with students learning in one of three different scenarios.

85 per cent of students across the province headed back to in-person learning, while just over 11.5 per cent made the switch to online learning, and one per cent opted for homeschooling.

Local resident Almin Kassamali says that moving all three of their children to RVS' supported online learning this year wasn't a decision that was made lightly. 

"We had full intentions of taking the traditional route. I understand the importance of kids being at school and interacting with their peers and going through the learning experience."

Kassamali says that he and his wife involved their middle school and high school kids in the decision-making process. He says they weighed the pros and cons, and as a family decided to make the switch to online learning. 

"We actually sat down as a family, and we listed everything and we took a vote. It was a very democratic process and the kids basically decided that this was best for them and this was best for their family."

Kassamali says that he's lucky to have extended family live close by including his parents who fall into a more vulnerable category. He says that ultimately this was their deciding factor.

"The tipping point for us actually came when my eldest daughter came to me and said - What if I come home one day and I get COVID and I give it to grandpa and grandma?"

He says their family decided collectively that a move to online learning would limit that potential risk.

"We accepted that there was a probability of infection to our kids. We understood that we would probably bounce back from it as well but the kids were very, very concerned especially for their grandparents who they spend a lot of time with," says Kassamali. "I would rather take every measure to mitigate or in the very least limit the probability of that."

Kassamali says that although this decision is the right one for his family, it hasn't been without challenges.

"There is a new level of patience that you have to adopt, and more parental involvement which can be challenging being an entrepreneurial family. Relearning grade six math. There's definitely way more involvement now than there's ever been before."

Juggling a business, family and having three kids learning from home isn't an easy feat, but Kassamali says that he and his wife stand by their decision and make it work for their family.