As a high school student, I feel betrayed by the Sask. government's back-to-school plan

When the Saskatchewan government announced their back to school plan, I knew that Aug. 31 would be the last day I could hug my grandparents for the rest of the school year. 

I fear bringing this virus home

Saskatchewan detailed its back-to-school plan Tuesday. (Warren Kay/CBC)

When the Saskatchewan government announced their back to school plan, I knew that Aug. 31 would be the last day I could hug my grandparents for the rest of the school year. 

I'm going into Grade 11. My parents are both teachers and my siblings are both in elementary school. That means contact in four different schools. 

I live in the same household as two of my grandparents and down the street from my other grandma. I got to hug them for the first time since March just a few weeks ago. I hadn't realized how much I was missing them until I was wrapped in their embrace. I didn't want to let go.

I fear bringing this virus home. I know many other families are in similar situations. 

I even delayed applying for a summer job to keep my family safe. Now it seems like a summer job would've been safer than going back to school.

'Frustrated, disappointed and confused'

I knew that once school started the likelihood of physical contact with my grandparents was low, but I was still hopeful. 

 When I watched the live announcement of the province's plan, it felt hazy and unreal, like something from a bad movie. We are being thrown into buildings with hundreds of people right as COVID-19 cases increase across our province. 

I feel betrayed.

After all we have learned about the virus so far, how could the government create a plan that goes against all of the precautions that every other part of society has in place. 

Reconfirming the 'return to school as normal' plan makes me frustrated, disappointed and confused. 

I worry for my teachers, friends and peers who are putting their lives on the line for education. Or those who are putting their guardians, siblings, or household members in danger by attending school during a pandemic. 

How the government could so casually put us at risk? 

'It seems like they don't even care about us'

Our nervousness around the situation has left many of my friends and I considering online school or learning from home. I'm not saying this because I do not like school and would rather stay home. I actually love school and the learning atmosphere it holds. 

I was looking forward to going back in the fall to see my friends again, connect with teachers and peers, and to start a new program. The newfound anxiety and danger around school will rob me of some of these experiences. 

Students will be focused on trying to keep safe more than their lessons. We shouldn't be forced to learn from home just because the government won't support and fund our schools. 

Saskatchewan schools are set to open as soon as Sept. 1. (Warren Kay/CBC)

I would feel more comfortable going to school if the class sizes were smaller and more reasonable for physical distancing, if masks were mandatory and if we knew details about when the next phase of the plan will be implemented.

I would feel more comfortable if we started with a stricter plan and then lightened up if things are going well.

I know the teachers and staff at my school will try their best to keep us safe, but without the right support and funding, their hands are tied.

The adults have control here and they are supposed to keep us safe, but it seems like they don't even care about us. They are OK with letting some people suffer and die when they have the power to reduce risks.

I don't want to mourn the loss of any students or staff at my school. I don't want to be the cause of somebody's death. I don't want to watch friends and family and the citizens of Saskatchewan suffer. I don't want to mourn the death of a loved one and not even be able to hug them goodbye.  I do not want to take part in this back to school experiment and be the government's lab rat.

I just want to learn and be safe.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

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Kiera Krogstad is a Grade 11 student at Aden Bowman Collegiate.


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