Uncomfortable and on edge, some high school students with the Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) weren’t happy about going back to school on Monday.
A group of more than a dozen students from Michael A. Riffel High School penned a letter to its board, asking them to re-think their decision.
“We’ve included that we’re just emotionally anxious and scared,” said J.C. Borja, Grade 11 student at Riffel High School and co-author of the letter.
In the letter, students say the additional stress they’re feeling with the switch is “unnecessary.”
“We believe that staying online for the remainder of the school year would be the best and smartest idea moving forward to keep your staff and students safe,” the letter goes on to read.
Many of the students who signed their names are in Grade 11 and admit worrying about the rise of COVID-19 variant cases whilst studying for exams has becoming overwhelming, but that’s not the only worry students have.
“The concerns I’d say I’m having is switching back and forth from these two systems is getting quite anxiety inducing,” said Pyper Nadon, another Grade 11 student from Riffel High School and the co-author of the letter.
Dr. Tamara Hinz, psychiatrist with the University of Saskatchewan, says this type of constant change in one’s schedule can be quite taxing.
“What we’ve seen for a lot of this school year is this alternating pattern of in-class vs. at-home learning, and I think that’s really been wreaking havoc on the mental health of students, too,” Hinz explained.
Grade 11 student at Riffel, Isabella Macpherson, says her mom works in health care and because of the high risk job her mom has since she works with COVID-19 patients, Macpherson worries about the added risk of exposure now that in-person classes have resumed.
“That causes a lot of stress on us, lots of friends I know have parents in healthcare,” Macpherson said.
Borja sent the letter to the school board on Friday afternoon and on Sunday afternoon he received a response from RCDS Chairperson, Vicky Bonnell via email.
The email reads:
“Thank you so much for sharing your opinion and for the signatures of your fellow students. I realize that this is a difficult time for our students, staff, and families; and that the learning changes that you have had to experience during this pandemic have been difficult.
“Every decision made by the Board has been for the safety and well-being of our students. We rely on the advice and recommendations of our Local and Provincial Medical Health Officers to derive a decision,” the email goes on to say.
“We certainly did so for the decision to have hybrid learning for our high school students; for the decision to go to remote learning before Easter; and now again for the return to school decision.”
The email ends with the Chairperson saying the board will be monitoring the situation with health authorities and that it hopes it will be “a safe rest of the school year for all.”
Despite the response form the school board, the students say they will continue to push for a return to remote learning.
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