GW Graham. A student from the school has created a petition, asking the district to create better online learning options so students can stay safely at home. (SD33.bc.ca)

GW Graham. A student from the school has created a petition, asking the district to create better online learning options so students can stay safely at home. (SD33.bc.ca)

Chilliwack student petitioning for creation of better online learning in wake of COVID-19

‘I myself do not feel safe walking into a school packed with 1,500 students,’ petition writer states

A student at a Chilliwack high school has started a petition for better online learning options.

The petition was created on Nov. 1, as the rumours of local cases of students with COVID-19 spread via social media. The petition, called Online Alternative For Chilliwack Schools, is on Change.org and addressed to the Chilliwack School board superintendent. Its creator is simply listed at GWG Student.

“Currently schools in Chilliwack, British Columbia are dealing with a Covid-19 outbreak with multiple cases in our high schools,” the petitioner writes. “We as students are required to go to these high schools for our education with no online alternative.”

It lists other schools that are doing online coursework, including UBC, UFV and Mount Cheam Christian School. The private school closed for a week in October when multiple cases showed up at the school and staffing couldn’t be provided.

“In the current state of the world, I myself do not feel safe walking into a school packed with 1,500 students,” the petitioner writes. “These students have families who have friends and jobs, so really it’s just a matter of time before we have a major outbreak and the schools close anyway. We need to allow students to go online before students or their families are harmed by this pandemic.”

The petition also brings up a topic often talked about in the community. While schools break up students into units and cohorts, those are erased once the bell rings and students are out in the community.

READ MORE: Chilliwack’s GW Graham secondary pauses athletic activities due to COVID

“This petition aims to eliminate the risk while still getting an education and allows students to put their health and well-being of their family before their academics,” it concludes.

The petition has more than 500 signatures now, and several comments of support.

“Being at school during a pandemic makes me feel uncomfortable and unsafe,” wrote Isabel Martinello. “Some teachers aren’t taking enough precautions in preventing the spread of the virus. I would feel much better if I was in my own home, and able to complete work at my own pace.”

Chilliwack schools are operating on an octet system this year, with one class at a time for about 22 school days. The highly condensed format makes missing a day or two difficult, some parents and students have said. They are currently in the second octet of the year.

There are currently 12 Chilliwack area schools that have sent letters out to families warning of a COVID-19 case in the school. The exposure dates range from Oct. 26 to Nov. 4. The surge in local cases have caused many youth organizations, from Chilliwack Giants Football to Chilliwack School of Performing Arts, to halt programs until the scope of cases is better known.

READ MORE: List of Chilliwack youth groups closing due to COVID-19 growing quickly


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