Coronavirus: Montreal high school students happy about less in-school time, but miss socializing

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WATCH: Secondary three students are reacting to the news that they'll be spending more time learning from home and less time in school. As Global's Felicia Parrillo reports, many students are saying they are relieved, but the lack of socialization in recent months is taking a toll on their mental health – Oct 28, 2020

Quebec students like Amelia Henderson are torn. They say they miss socializing with their friends, but the thought of catching COVID-19 in school is weighing on them.

“I am kind of worried because I’m afraid I’ll just give it to my friends,” she said. “And then they’ll have it and then they might get sick.”

Starting next week, secondary three or Grade 9 students will join older high school students in going to school every second day to stop the spread of COVID-19. They will learn from home on the other days.

READ MORE: Quebec extends restrictions in coronavirus red zones for another 4 weeks

Those who are already following the hybrid model say it’s made things easier.

“I was a little scared, a little cautious about the virus so I was trying to take my precautions to not get it, said Massimo Arcaro, secondary four student at John F. Kennedy High School. “So I find it’s a bit easier at home.”

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Premier François Legault has repeatedly stressed the importance of schools remaining open for the psychological well-being of students.

Some students at John F. Kennedy High School in Montreal say they can understand that.

“When you’re less social, it messes with you mentally,” said Vilene Germain, a secondary four student. “Being social and talking to other people, I feel like that plays a big role in our daily lives in general.”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Abe Worenklein says it’s crucial for parents to help in maintaining connections between their children and their friends even if it is virtually.

READ MORE: Quebec makes masks mandatory for high school students in coronavirus red zones

“They need to socialize,” he said. “It’s extremely, extremely important — especially for adolescents, but younger children as well.”

Joseph Lamantia, a teacher at JFK, says whether the students would be learning from home or in school, he just wishes that instructions from the province would be more consistent.

“I believe that the directives should have made clear from the start,” he said.

“This going back and forth and adding new elements to our job, when we’re two months into the school year, is difficult.”