Students walk out of class to protest lack of COVID-19 safety measures

·2 min read
Students at Maples Collegiate assemble after walking out of class Monday morning, one of several walkouts organized in Manitoba calling on greater COVID-19 safety measures in schools.  (Justin Fraser/CBC - image credit)
Students at Maples Collegiate assemble after walking out of class Monday morning, one of several walkouts organized in Manitoba calling on greater COVID-19 safety measures in schools. (Justin Fraser/CBC - image credit)

Students at several schools across Manitoba walked out of their classrooms Monday morning to protest the lack of safety measures to protect them against COVID-19 as they return to in-person learning.

In Winnipeg, walkouts began at about 11:30 a.m. at Grant Park High School, Maples Collegiate, Gordon Bell High School, Collège Louis-Riel, and Collège Béliveau. Some of the walkouts saw dozens of students participate, while other saw only a few, CBC News reporters observed.

Ava Byrne, a student at Kelvin High School and one of the organizers of the walkouts, says students want greater access to personal protective equipment and an option to go back to remote learning.

Byrne, who started the Instagram account MB Students for COVID Safety, which has been co-ordinating the walkouts, says she doesn't feel the province has done enough to keep students safe as they return to class.

"I really do wish that there was more resources to keep us safe because I think I would certainly feel safer in schools, but now with Omicron and our overburdened hospitals, I just don't think it's a good idea to be back in schools," she said in an interview with Information Morning host Marcy Markusa ahead of the walkouts.

Byrne says she knows of at least 90 schools where students were planning on walking out of class.

School administrators had mixed reactions to the walkouts.

At Kelvin High School, principal Tim Cox said in a memo to parents that the school supported students' right to peacefully protest and put their education of the democratic process into action.

Elsewhere, school officials at Collège Louis-Riel said the walkout was not sanctioned by the school or the division, and that students who participated would be marked as absent.

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