Student petition voicing concerns about school schedule changes in Pembina Trails

WINNIPEG — High school students in the Pembina Trails School Division are voicing their concerns regarding a change to their at school schedule.

Starting on Tuesday, Oct. 13, the school division will change the in-class cycle for high school students from two days in class in a six-day cycle to three days in class in a six-day cycle.

On the petition, it says this decision is very unsettling and that the health of students “is not a game in which you can roll the dice and hope for the best.”

Ted Fransen, who is the superintendent of the Pembina Trails School Division, said this change is part of the school division’s plan.

“The plan was always to evaluate at the end of September and to then carefully and methodically move to a three day (cycle), to alternate days, if and when it is safe to do so,” said Fransen.

One of the concerns brought up by the petition is the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the Winnipeg area, with many of the cases happening in schools throughout the city.

Fransen said the school division weighed its decision carefully.

“We looked at our schools, and our spacing, and our schedules, and the fact that we are within Manitoba health guidelines for COVID moving to alternate days and essentially aligning with the other high schools in the province that started out at alternate days.”

Fransen added he has received many emails from students and has also met with students who have said they want to be in school more often.

“So that is part of the students’ voice, and now we have some other students saying the opposite thing. There will always be diversity of opinion and that’s who we are as a community. We value transparency, we value hearing from people, as we did in the summer as we prepared the plan,” said Fransen.

He added this change of the schedule is not something that is set in stone and that the school division is continuously re-evaluating what it should do based on the climate.

Fransen also noted the division keeps a close eye on cases in schools and also what public health officials have to say.

“At this point, our schools are in yellow,” he said, “If the province changes that restriction, we will of course adjust, as quickly as we can.”

Fransen added the school division values student safety and this decision was not made lightly.

As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had over 400 signatures on it.

CTV News has made multiple attempts to reach out to the people involved with the petition, but have not yet received a response.

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