Grade 12 students on P.E.I. reflect on a year affected by COVID-19
A major storm and a pandemic bookmark the school year for Island students
It would be an understatement to say that this was not the Grade 12 year that high school students on P.E.I. were expecting.
The year is highlighted by two major events. Post-tropical storm Dorian cancelled classes for a period in September. Then in March schools were shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Grade 12 is a big year for many students — with decisions about what they're doing next, band trips and school musicals, and of course, prom and graduation but the added stress of a global pandemic has created a new level of uncertainty.
Natanya McInnis is a Grade 12 student at Westisle High School. She said the closing of schools because the pandemic has changed a lot about her life.
"I'm not working any more and now I am not at school so everything is a little different," she said.
Now, like many Islanders, she's at home most of the time. She said she is sleeping in a lot and "usually just catching up on some school work after I wake up."
McInnis said she misses her classes and all the things that come along with it.
"I'm missing the pep rallies and the events we used to have at our school."
Charlie Morse is a Grade 12 student at Colonel Gray High School in Charlottetown. He said he is an extroverted person and not being around his friends and classmates is difficult.
"It's important to have people around you that you can talk with, that you can ask questions to during class," he said.
He was also supposed to be part of the Olympic swimming trials — but those were cancelled due to COVID-19.
"The Olympics were also moved to next year so it's giving me another goal to work toward while I am swimming varsity next year," he said.
"Given that this is my last year as an age group swimmer it is pretty disappointing that this big competition that I have been working for, for years and years was cancelled."
However, "in the grand scheme of things" he said he believes it was the right call to make.
He said it is tough not being able to get in the swimming pool though.
"It feels almost alien. Everything really came to a screeching halt. I'm just doing my best here at home doing stationary biking, rowing, running, biking outside — all sorts of exercise to try to stay as fit as possible," Morse said.
On top of not going to classes, he's missing out on his usual training of four hours a day, he said. "It's definitely a big change."
Juliet Arsenault is in Grade 12 at Charlottetown Rural High School. She spent her first semester of Grade 12 in Spain and made friends while she was there. Spain was hit hard by COVID-19.
"None of my friends are directly impacted, they're not sick or anything, but I think that the whole society would definitely be impacted and a lot of my friends were in university and things like that and they had to move home," Arsenault said.
School resumes Monday for P.E.I. students, but the school buildings will remain closed. Students will be learning from home using online tools and other resources.
Arsenault said she will welcome the school work because she has been missing it as part of her routine.
"I miss having something to kind of wake up and do. It's been actually tough to make some routine out of this and so I think it will be good to actually have something to work toward," she said.
McInnis said with school starting Monday she might end up sleeping in less, but she doesn't mind.
"That'll actually help me wake up early. Just getting that routine back in, getting up and doing some school work for a bit that will definitely get me up again."
McInnis said she isn't sure what to expect from online classes but she thinks it will be mostly lectures.
"I'm hoping for maybe lectures to start off with and then just homework afterward that we just hand in — something easy," she said.
Arsenault said she had a conference call with one of her teachers because he wanted some input on how to structure teaching for the class.
"He was saying that he might just post a short lecture, maybe an article or something and then kind of just ask for a response or an assignment that we can work on over the week."
Morse said some of his teachers have also been in contact to let students know how classes will take place.
"I know that my calculus teacher is going to be doing 30 minute lectures along with homework," he said.
"Which I mean, all things considered, is relatively similar to what I would actually be doing in class."
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.
How can I protect myself?
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
- Practise physical distancing.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
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With files from Island Morning