Grade 12 students worry COVID-19 could cancel school year and derail post-secondary plans
EASTERN PASSAGE, N.S. -- Grade 12 students hoping to graduate this June face a great deal of uncertainty as schools remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Discussions are underway on how to save their final year of high school.
Shelby Myers is three months away from graduating. She had planned to attend Acadia University next year, but now that plan is on hold.
"I spent 12-and-a-half years working to graduate," said Myers, who lives in Eastern Passage, N.S. "To have it postponed would be devastating."
Her mother, Michelle Myers, fears Shelby's Grade 12 year will be lost and says her daughter being away from school and her friends is unhealthy.
"I am mostly concerned about the mental health of my children and their peers," Myers said.
A plan to resume teaching is being devised, says Paul Wozney, the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.
Planning sessions are underway and teachers are picking up item from classrooms so they can work from home.
Doug Hadley, a spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, says the focus right now is supporting Grade 12 students and helping them meet their graduation requirements.
"In person is best," Wozney said of the old-fashioned classroom approach, but he says it is possible for students to be taught online.
There's one hitch, though.
"We don't have the equipment and the people trained and provided with the proper development necessary to deliver learning in a virtual school model," Wozney said.
Access to the internet is also a barrier.
"(Only) 70 per cent of Nova Scotians have broadband access," Wozney said.
Hadley says students will be allowed to borrow technology from schools if needed, but Shelby Myers has concerns about online learning being a good fit.
"Math, that worries me because it's assessment and test-based and stuff like that," she said.
Saint Mary's University in Halifax issued a statement on Tuesday. It said, in part, that the school is "working with our local and international education partners, and we are confident that solutions will be found for students to finish high school. We are encouraging students to continue with their applications and planning for their post-secondary education."
Wozney said it's unclear when teaching -- in any form -- will resume this academic year.