North·Point of View

How this teenager feels about going back to school amid a pandemic

This school year will be completely and utterly unlike any other, writes 15-year-old Khayden Dick from Whapmagoostui, Que.

15-year-old Khayden Dick from northern Quebec reflects on being a student during COVID-19 pandemic

'My first impression of the COVID-19 pandemic was confusion,' writes Khayden Carter Dick, a 15-year-old senior high school student from Whapmagoostui, Que. (Submitted by Khayden Carter Dick)

Khayden Carter Dick is a 15-year-old student living in the northern Quebec community of Whapmagoostui. He wrote what it's like as a student during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as back-to-school season nears.

My first impression of the COVID-19 pandemic was confusion. I have never lived through such a significant global crisis, and the notion I had about the whole thing was very unsettling.

I remember waking up one morning, like it was a regular, any ordinary day. When I got to school, my fellow peers were talking about how schools in the South were going to be closed. Nobody knew if our school would also be affected because of COVID-19 since we live in a northern, isolated community.

There were a lot of unanswered questions, and there still are. No one knew if we would go back to school the following week, or the following month. Being a Grade 10 student, I was uncertain if I would have the opportunity to pass and move on to the next grade.

As the days turned into months, I was reassured that I would be able to move on to my senior year using the online learning platform set up by the Cree School Board. This curated a sense of relief — relief that allowed me to enjoy my summer vacation.

However, with the start of the new school year around the corner, and so many unknowns lingering, I feel perplexed about what the new "normal" will be.

This school year will be completely and utterly unlike any other.

During quarantine, it felt like I was unable to do anything. I was trapped in my house.- Khayden Carter Dick

As a student, I have not been told what will happen at school this upcoming year. It seems like no one really knows what to expect, which is extremely worrisome and frightening.

Some of my concerns are whether or not I will be able to participate in extracurricular activities. For example, will I be able to play basketball or will the gym be used as a classroom to follow physical distancing protocols?  How are the classrooms going to be set up? Will I be able to do group projects and collaborate with my peers?

Then there is the concern of having to wear masks. I am asthmatic and sometimes I find it difficult to breathe while wearing a mask, even if I am just sitting and relaxing. 

During quarantine, it felt like I was unable to do anything. I was trapped in my house.

I am excited to get back into the swing of things. I miss the routine of getting up at the same time every day and getting pulled out of bed to go to school. I miss not only seeing my friends, but also the teachers every day. 

I am also elated to be able to complete my last and final year of high school, in class as opposed to online. My learning style consists of instructional-based teaching, which means that I absorb exceedingly more information when I am being taught face to face. 

The last thing I am excited for is (if possible) extracurricular activities.

I feel perplexed about what the new 'normal' will be.- Khayden Carter Dick

Before quarantine started, I had recently joined a program called Mikw Chiyâm — an art concentration program that is offered at my school. One of the mediums was poetry. I got really close with the poet, who was supposed to teach for six weeks. I only had the opportunity to work with him for two weeks before everything got shut down. Fortunately, he is supposed to come back, and I hope to get the chance to work with him again. 

When school returns, I will hopefully have more freedom to do things that I enjoy doing, such as basketball, student council and poetry.

Since I live in the isolated, fly-in community of Whapmagoostui — that has essentially shut down all flights since March — the community will be able to start reopening relatively quickly. 

With zero cases of COVID-19 in my community, I believe that not only we, but the entire region of Eeyou Istchee, did an awesome job of following COVID-19 protocols that have been put in place. 

Although no one knows what this circumstance will bring, I hope that everyone is and will stay safe at school.


Khayden Carter Dick is a 15-year-old student from the small community of Whapmagoostui in northern Quebec beside Hudson Bay. He is student council chief and president at his school. His interests are hockey, basketball, furthering his education, and making videos on YouTube. He's also interested in music and poetry.