Vulnerable students, families want a normal school year too, but COVID-19 still top of mind – CBC

Current message is ‘it is strictly up to them to protect themselves,’ says bioethicist

Sep 17, 2022

After attending classes virtually during the pandemic, Yellowknife student Riley Oldford felt this fall was the right time to return to school in person.

While his experience learning from home was “a pretty good one overall,” the high school senior noted that being back has meant he’s catching up with friends. For more than two years, they haven’t had many face-to-face meet-ups beyond a few summertime gatherings or the rare sledge hockey game.

“If I were to get COVID, there’s a much higher chance that I’d be at risk to be hospitalized or in intensive care,” said the Grade 12 student, who has cerebral palsy and chronic lung disease. “I’ve been trying to avoid getting it altogether, so I don’t have to find out what could happen.”

With few or no COVID-19 measures left in K-12 settings and a renewed focus on in-person rather than virtual learning, this back-to-school season has felt more like pre-pandemic times for many Canadians. Yet coronavirus concerns remain top-of-mind for students and families who are immunocompromised or have underlying medical conditions, with some experts saying they’ve been left to fend for themselves.

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