Canadian teacher Stacey Lance has written a damning op-ed in Substack detailing how governments have handled COVID-19 in schools and how it has affected students.

The article appeared in Common Sense with Bari Weiss on Thursday. 

Lance writes that she has worked as a teacher in the Canadian public school system for the past 15 years, “mostly at the high school level.” She adds that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and when schools moved online, it was “evident to me that the loss of human connection would be detrimental to our students’ development.”

“Overlooked has been the deep shame young people feel: Our students were taught to think of their schools as hubs for infection and themselves as vectors of disease,” she says. “This has fundamentally altered their understanding of themselves.”

When schools returned to in-person learning in September, Lance says she was optimistic despite the move online when COVID-19 case counts increased. She says that schools have not been normal since.

Lance says that when she was teaching in-person, her school felt “like there was no longer life in the building.” Schools, she says, have become “cold and soulless” because students have been unable to gather in the halls or talk between classes. Social events have been cancelled. 

In her classrooms, she says, learning loss has become noticeable. She adds that her students cannot concentrate and are not doing the work she assigns them. 

Lance goes on to say that around this time of year, her school starts planning for prom, which is held in June. She says that whereas students used to talk nonstop about prom in previous years, they are not talking about it as much anymore because they assume it will be cancelled again. 

Lance’s article says it is the same deal with universities. She writes that her students have told her that if universities are going to be the same as schools, they do not see the point in going. 

Lance recognizes that people are resilient but that they break. She says her students are breaking, and some of them have broken. 

“When we look at the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of history, I believe it will be clear that we betrayed our children,” she writes. “It’s time for a return to normal life and put an end to the bureaucratic policies that aren’t making society safer, but are sacrificing our children’s mental, emotional and physical health.”

Schools are safe to operate without strict COVID-19 protocols, according to the Ontario Science Table and researchers from SickKids Hospital in July. 

The Science Table said in the report that it was safe for most activities to resume in schools in fall 2021 and that mask mandates, social distancing and cohorting should be eliminated. 

“In-person learning is essential for the learning and overall well-being of children and youth,” said the report. “Therefore, barring catastrophic circumstances, schools should remain open for in-person learning.”

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