Anxiety, resignation among some N.L. students as in-person classes resume

·2 min read
Some high school students have mixed feelings about being back in class.  (Mike Moore/CBC - image credit)
Some high school students have mixed feelings about being back in class. (Mike Moore/CBC - image credit)
Mike Moore/CBC
Mike Moore/CBC

As in-person instruction resumes this week at Newfoundland and Labrador schools, it's not just parents who have reservations; some students themselves are feeling anxious.

For Madison O'Dell, a Grade 12 student at Holy Trinity High School in Torbay, the return to school has come with a range of emotions.

"I'm not the most excited," Madison told CBC News on Wednesday. "I'd rather be home, seeing I was in a routine of things … and being able to use my extra time for good things like going for a walk outside or little activities like yoga, things I enjoy doing."

Jacob Kavanagh, a Grade 12 student at Holy Spirit High School in Conception Bay South, said he finds in-person learning beneficial and online classes difficult to follow. But being home is much safer given how highly transmissible the Omicron variant is, he added.

"I'm glad I get to go back and see my friends and I'm glad I get to go back and have a more focused learning experience," he said. "But at the same time I'm worried about safety."

Madison said hallways at her school are packed with students who have only a few minutes to get from class to class. Students are used to physical distancing — a key way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 — she said, but she doesn't think it's possible at her school.

Mark Cumby/CBC
Mark Cumby/CBC

"Even when you go the mall, you social distance. But at school there's no room to social distance," she said.

"The classrooms are only so big. Some of the classes of 30, the classroom only has 30 seats. You can't really social distance in all the classes.… The teachers can only do so much."

Feeling pressured

Madison said Grade 12 students are trying to enjoy their final year of secondary school, and many believe there will be another lockdown, so catching up with friends is common for students who have had much of their high school lives upended by the pandemic.

"I wouldn't be surprised if I had COVID soon," O'Dell said.

"Lunchtime is disastrous. Everyone is hanging out with everyone. And I get that. We're back to school and we want to see our friends, especially Grade 12. This is our last year."

Jacob said he thinks schools will return to online classes soon because people will get sick and students will miss a lot of class time.

He said he knows a handful of students who are not returning to in-person learning.

"It is something that I considered," he said. "I almost feel like I'm pressured and I feel like I have to go back, as much as I might not want to for my safety."

Madison said she would choose online learning if the option were available.

"Most individuals are going to miss a lot of classes. Then we're at a disadvantage again," she said.

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