A Winnipeg high school has taken the unusual step of warning parents about a party off school grounds that was attended by a student with COVID-19.
Maples Collegiate principal Scott Shier said the school sent out a letter to parents Monday warning them about the gathering last weekend because other students from the high school likely attended, adding the school learned of the party after the student posted about it on social media.
"It was surprising to hear there was a party over the weekend," Shier said. "But teenagers are teenagers. It’s our job to educate them, and that’s what we’re trying to do."
Shier said Monday there hasn't been a spike in student absences yet, but he received many calls and emails from worried parents.
Maples Collegiate students Nathan and Evan agreed that going to a party during a pandemic was "kind of stupid."
"There’s a pandemic going on, it’s not a smart move to do," Nathan said. "Even though parties were only supposed to be 10 people, then it was cut down to five, but I’m guessing there was more than five people there."
"I know if kids get it it’s not as bad for them, their symptoms and that, but I wouldn’t want to give it to my parents," Evan said.
Mercedita Herrera, who was waiting for her daughter after classes ended, said she’s worried about sending her to school.
"I’m scared for my daughter. I know they’re trying to be protective but sometimes you can’t help family gathering — but really? Parties?" she said.
Herrera worries teenagers aren’t taking the pandemic seriously.
"Teenagers, a lot of them they don’t listen. I know my kid, I tell her everything, I know she listens but who knows what she does with her friends. It’s peer pressure," she said.
Grade 9 student Harjot, 14, said while her fellow students had mostly been maintaining health and sanitation guidelines, she has seen other students engage in unsafe behaviour.
While she worries about in-person learning, Harjot said she’s trying her best to keep up with public health orders because she still prefers it to the online alternative because she finds it’s easier to work with teachers when she has a question.
"I’m trying to protect myself and other people," she said.
Shier said pre-pandemic, Maples Collegiate typically had around 1,800 people in the building on an average day, but it’s been cut down to around 700 daily.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.