Commence Scenario 2 for High Schools and Revise COVID-19 Guidelines in Alberta

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We are requesting that the Government of Alberta commences Scenario 2 for high schools across Alberta—particularly in cities such as Edmonton and Calgary—and revise the ineffectual COVID-19 guidelines currently in place.

As students across Alberta have begun attending their in-person, Scenario 1 classes, COVID-19 has become an increasingly worrisome challenge. Within the first two weeks of schools reopening, 16 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed throughout 16 different schools—six of them being high schools—and an outbreak has already been declared at one of them.

We students are not only anxious about contracting COVID-19, but we are frustrated and angered by the lack of foresight and thought put into the precautions and regulations provided by the Government of Alberta.

Over the past two weeks, I and countless other students and staff have experienced chaotic and unmanageable hallways, students with masks carelessly placed under their noses, crowded classrooms of sniffling children, and so many more instances that demonstrate the uselessness of the current regulations in place; they are unreliable and careless. Schools may be able to force students to wear masks, but they're ineffective at preventing students from wearing their masks incorrectly, or enforcing them to wear them at all outside of school. Schools aren't even able to enforce social distancing guidelines, whether that be outside, in the hallways, or even in the classrooms.

COVID-19 cases throughout Alberta have only continued to rise since the beginning of the school year, in fact Calgary alone had experienced an increase of almost 300 active cases the week prior to schools reopening. Cities surrounding Calgary and cities such as Edmonton have also seen an increase in COVID-19 cases as schools have begun reopening.

I loathe online learning. I cannot stand its distant and isolated nature. But our ability to learn cannot be at the expense of the safety of others. There are reasons that many universities are mostly or entirely online for this school year; why should their same level of safety not be replicated for other students across the province? Commencing Scenario 2 would mitigate the difficulties we've faced with online learning in the past. It would also allow for precautions and regulations to be more easily followed within schools.

The reality is that COVID-19 is to be expected as schools reopen for the fall, but it cannot be viewed as an inevitability. The simple fact that we are able to apply protocols in schools to make students and staff safer but choose not to is negligent and careless behavior.

We cannot allow this pandemic to continue longer than it must, and we are currently failing.

It is not too late to prevent another quarantine. It is not too late to prevent the deaths of people whose deaths could have been prevented. It is not too late to prioritize the health and safety of students who are fully capable of learning with the resources accessible to them.

As winter approaches and these flawed guidelines continue to be followed, we are not only at risk of going back to online classes indefinitely, but we are elongating the period of time that this virus must remain with us. The current AHS protocols, as we enter flu season, will see mass absences across the system. Scenario 2 would allow for adequate adjustments in the reduction of spreading the common flu which would see more successful online exchanges and systems.