NL Teens Belong in School

NL Teens Belong in School

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DeeAnne Feltham-Scott started this petition to Parents and

Health authorities have said that we must live like COVID-19 is everywhere and that the outbreak was due to us living like it wasn’t here. It was reported that there was clear and rapid spread through households, social circles, sports, and schools in the last outbreak. Controlling the spread could only come with a provincial shutdown with strict public health measures. However, as we know, COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, and life has to continue as normal as it can be in a pandemic. In response, some restrictions have been lifted and public health guidelines implemented that reflect us living with the new variants.

Sports, arts, dance, and theatre are permitted, in-class instruction is continuing for kindergarten to grade nine (K-9), and the Steady 20 for socialization is allowed for households under public health guidelines. Children of all ages are permitted to play sports and dance together, but our high school students can’t learn together in a physical classroom.  An outbreak could have occurred in any of those settings and was spread in these settings, yet high schools have remained closed to in-class learning.  Students are continuing to learn in Google Classroom, and it has been suggested this is partly due to several cases in a provincial high school in February.  Are they being penalized for the outbreak in February 2021?

It has been said by NLESD and public health that high school students will continue online learning as long as public health guidelines for schools require kids to stay in cohorts, maintain 6 feet, and mandatory mask-wearing. It has been determined that children in elementary and intermediate schools can cohort and remain 6 feet apart in their classrooms, therefore the risk of transmission is acceptable. I’d like to know if these children can consistently stay in ‘one cohort’ and maintain 6 feet apart in school, classrooms, and during the school day.  If not, why are high school students still at home in a google classroom? How are schools ensuring that children follow public health guidelines when they are outside the school setting, but still during the school day? Are they leaving schools during recess and lunch in their cohorts or are they mixing with others? What about after-school programs that are operating in elementary schools? Shouldn't this be considered another cohort for these students? 

These children are also permitted to participate in extracurricular activities – hockey, soccer, music, dance, etc. – outside of school. Are these considered cohorts? If so, many children are involved in multiple activities, with siblings who are also involved. If you have a family with two children, participating in two activities each week, are these considered four additional cohorts? The family is being exposed to the school cohort, plus the additional cohorts and their contacts.  

I am not a public health expert and I want answers to why public health guidelines are not going to work in high schools. Many teens across the province are spending 14 to 16 hours a day in their rooms, sleeping and online learning, Monday to Friday. This is not good for anybody’s mental health. Ontario is in a 28-day shutdown, and they have not closed schools province-wide because they recognize the negative impact that school disruptions have on students, parents, and society. (https://covid19-sciencetable.ca/sciencebrief/update-on-covid-19-projections-5/ They are doing whatever they can to keep the kids in school. Wasn’t it said when schools were opening up in September that walking through the hallways wearing a mask on wouldn’t spread the virus? Obviously, this is one of the Public Health measures that is working to control the spread in the community so why wouldn’t it be applied in high schools the same way?

Someone needs to work with the CMOH, NLESD, and the Department of Education to find the safest way to get these children back to school at an acceptable risk. Google Classroom is not a method of online curriculum delivery, yet this is the resource that teachers have been provided to deliver courses. They were given a few days to take their in-class courses and put them in an online format. It takes months to develop an online learning course based on teaching methods and assessment that is suitable for online delivery. This pandemic is here to stay and we have to live with the reality of the situation, and not live in ideal circumstances because there will never be ideal circumstances.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!