OPINION: Grade school students don’t have a voice during COVID pandemic

OPINION: Grade school students don’t have a voice during COVID pandemic

As adults weigh pros and cons of returning kids to school, is anyone asking kids what they think?

Ever have one of those moments where you’re in a room with other people and they’re talking about you like you aren’t even there?

Annoying, isn’t it?

Welcome to the life of every school-aged child, right now.

While adults discuss the “should we or shouldn’t we” of a return to studies in September, kids are seen and not heard. It seems absurd, because who has more at stake than them? They’re the ones who will be sent back into a high-risk environment after being told for months to do their part to keep COVID-19 at bay.

“Sorry you can’t see Grandma, but COVID.”

“I know you looked forward to a prom and a big graduation ceremony for years, but COVID.”

“You can’t go hang out with your friends because COVID.”

“Okay now, back to school you go.”

I live with two children who are quite confused right now. My daughter is 13 years old and will be going to GW Graham for the first time and my son is 11 years old and is heading into year one at Mt. Slesse.

READ MORE: B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

READ MORE: Answers to five common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

Because their mother has multiple sclerosis, they’re acutely aware of physical distancing and masks and doing what they can to keep her safe.

With B.C.’s infection numbers rising back to the levels they were at when in-person schooling ended last March, neither of them understands what’s changed for the better, and why it’s now safe to go back.

My daughter goes back and forth on a return to school. On one hand, she misses her friends and she struggles with online learning and the inability to get instant help/feedback from a teacher. On the other hand, COVID.

My son is more resolute. He too misses his buddies, but he doesn’t want to go back to school until it’s safe.

Totally unprompted by myself or anyone else, he wrote down his thoughts Sunday night. Other than light editing for punctuation and spelling, this is what he put down on paper:

“I don’t want to go, not because I don’t want to do math or other subjects. It’s because I have a family I care about. I really don’t want to see them sick. I’m happy that everyone like the Prime Minister and Dr. Bonnie Henry are trying to help, but I don’t think re-opening schools is doing any favours. Now I get people need the schools but the schools are putting everyone at risk. I think us kids should have the choice. I see that you are interviewing parents and teachers about the schools, but if you think about it, us kids are there all the time. Why not ask us?

“I think us kids should get to speak up in this pandemic. Maybe consider giving us the choice to go or not, or give use completely no school because I know that there are many families and they don’t want to catch COVID. I just want to make everyone safe so don’t re-open the schools.

“Now let us kids speak up. We are just as important as anyone else.”

If we took the time to have open, honest talks with all of our children, how many would express similar sentiments?

How many are feeling anxious? How many are worried sick that they’ll bring the virus home to their families? How many have been asked how they feel?

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of adults to make decisions in the best interests of children. Ulimately, maybe their input would mean nothing. But just this once, during a once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully!) nightmare of a pandemic, shouldn’t we ask them a few questions?

“What do you want? What do you need? What can we do to keep you learning and keep you safe?”

Don’t they deserve to have a voice?


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mackenzie Ashley-Lynn Gilfillan was last seen Jan. 10 in the 45000-block of Menholm Road. (RCMP photo)
RCMP asking for help to find missing Chilliwack woman

Mackenzie Ashley-Lynn Gilfillan was last seen Jan. 10 in the 45000-block of Menholm Road

Chilliwack Chiefs
Chilliwack Chiefs acquire forward Ben Woodhouse from Wellington Dukes

The BCHL club swapped future considerations to the Dukes for the 20-year-old forward

Chilliwack is still one of B.C.’s COVID hot-spots, according to the latest weekly numbers from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
Chilliwack records 140 COVID cases over seven-day period

Chilliwack’s case count per 100,000 people is among the highest in the province

An Abbotsford man was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 3 on Monday, Jan. 18. (Black Press file photo)
Abbotsford man killed in Highway 3 crash near Hedley

Fatality was discovered by passing tow truck driver

Light boxes installed recently near Five Corners, seen here on Jan. 18, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Mystery of the large light boxes in downtown Chilliwack revealed

Some suggested ‘warming stations’ for the homeless; others guessed ‘public art’ installations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read