Students hopeful to ‘stay in school’ amid rising COVID-19 case numbers

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Catholic School Board, universities and colleges welcomed back students on Wednesday for in-person learning.

After months of bouncing back and forth between in class and online teaching, students and parents are hopeful this school year will be more stable.

“Parents, students and staff can look forward to a normal school year this September,” Adriana LaGrange, the minister of education, said in an Aug. 13 press conference.

The return is a relief for a number of students but there’s still a sense of unease as families prepare for the unpredictable road ahead as the province navigates the fourth wave of COVID-19.

“Parents right now are having mixed emotions,” Tara Boothby, a registered psychologist, said.

“We don’t know if it’s going to be the rollercoaster of open, close, masks, no masks all these other dilemmas that we’ve faced prior to this year for our kids.”

“Jason Kenny is putting families in a devastating position at a time that should have been exciting,” Sarah Hoffman, the NDP education critic, said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will follow the expert advice of the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw,” read a statement from LaGrange on Wednesday. “If necessary, we will make changes to the provincial health guidance for schools to ensure a safe and successful school year.”

Masks are currently mandatory at all ECSB schools at all times for both staff and students.

The University of Alberta is also following suit, asking for proof of vaccination from all students. However, the university is relying on an honour system of self declaration.

“I feel perfectly fine and safe considering I’ve taken measures to protect myself,” Tinashe Muzah, a finance student, said.

‘IT’S KIND OF NICE TO BE AWAY FROM ZOOM’

While uncertainty lurks in the background, many students are grateful for the chance to be back in the class with their professors and classmates.

“I’m excited to get back into a routine with class and more clear assignments,” Spencer Bennett, an education major, told CTV News Edmonton.

“It’s kind of nice to be away from Zoom,” Muzah added. “Not siting behind a computer by myself in my bedroom is really quite a welcome change.”

“I’m happy for all the kids, it’s been a tough year with this pandemic,” Shane Redstar, a parent, added. “They get to come and do what they love, which is learn.” 

‘I JUST HOPE SCHOOLS DON’T SHUTDOWN’

For kids who have not returned to school yet, Boothby said it’s best for parents to listen to their kids concerns about COVID-19 and acknowledge the anxiety they may have about seeing other students again after months of isolation.

“It is not an average back to school,” she explained.

“Whether our kids are feeling anxious or afraid, confused or uncertain I think we should honour that experience as very normal.”

“I just hope schools don’t shutdown this year,” Dave John, a university student, said. “If they do I guess you can’t do much about it but I’d rather stay in school,”

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Touria Izri

 

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