Saskatoon teen wishes students were 'listened to' as province, school divisions craft COVID-19 plans
SASKATOON -- With just a few weeks until the school year begins, Robel Mirach — who will be starting Grade 9 at Aden Bowman Collegiate — is concerned that the public school division has excluded students from conversations about returning back to school.
“I am not part of the school board or the provincial government. However, I wish that as students we were listened to more often,” said Mirach.
The 13-year-old says that although he has received his class schedule, he feels he should have been contacted directly by the school with guidelines on how to physically distance in his new school while taking part in activities.
“I am a very athletic student and I enjoy playing sports like basketball and I wonder how will we play sports or will we do group projects,” said Mirach.
Mirach says he along with several of his friends, have turned to social media platforms such as Reddit to express their concerns about returning back to school.
“I felt like there was no other places to get my voice heard and I wanted to share my opinions and see if they can relate,” said Mirach.
In a statement to CTV News, Saskatoon Public Schools explained its communication strategy.
"From the school and division level, our official communication has always be shared directly with parents and caregivers, which included a survey sent to families in June asking for their views on supplemental learning and their thoughts on the upcoming school year,” the statement said.
It added that a handbook for parents and caregivers which includes more details about reopening plans will be provided at the end of the week, an online learning program for students will also be available.
As for Mirach, he says the handbook is a positive next step however hopes that students will have the opportunity to voice their concerns once the school year begins.
“I am thankful that I will be going into Grade 9 and I will be a part of this school but at the same time I want answers,” said Mirach.
Social-emotional and traumatic impact
Kevin Cameron, executive director for the North American Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response, said communicating with youth during the transition into school is important – but often forgotten.
“Many jurisdictions have failed to pay attention to the social-emotional and traumatic impact of a worldwide pandemic of quarantining and reintegration.”
When youth do not feel included in the dialogue on things that affect their everyday lives, they may turn to social media to air their concerns, he said.
Parents need to pay attention not only to how kids are feeling but how they're feeling themselves, he said.
“The kid's anxiety can be generated or intensified by a parent's anxiety so parents need to slow down and think, ‘how have I been reacting to heading back to school,’” said Cameron.