Students in Bonnyville walked out during the lunch hour on Friday to protest COVID-19 mandates in schools and for the right to breathe without a mask on.
On February 5, outside of Bonnyville Central High School (BCHS) more than 60 people gathered with signs and were shouting statements such as, “let us breathe!”
The walkout to end all COVID-19 mandates in schools in Alberta was an initiative started in Drayton Valley with a call for all willing Alberta towns to join in. It is unknown at this time how many students across the province participated in the walk-out.
“There were very few students who participated in the walk-out (at NLPS schools),” Communications Officer for NLPS, Nicole Garner told Lakeland Connect. “If they missed classes as a result of participating, there would be the same consequences they would experience for missing a class at any other time.”
During the protest, students stood in the cold while local residents offered their support by driving by and honking their horns while flying Canadian flags from their vehicles. The bellowing sound of a big rig horn could be heard as it echoed in the frosty air. The RCMP parked nearby but did not interfere with the protest.
Student Sam Schaffrick spoke with Lakeland Connect during the rally.
“There are a lot of us students here and what we want to see is integrity,” Schaffrick said about the province’s public health measures.
Schaffrick said in the live interview that he believes people should not be pressured into having to wear a mask.
“We should have free will with our own face and body,” Schaffrick said.
Schaffrick voiced that he felt having to wear a mask is affecting students’ quality of education and that he feels it “sucks the energy out of a classroom.”
“It would be nice to see students smile for a change,” Schaffrick said. “We want to see our faces, we have nice smiles and we should have the right to show them.”
It is unknown if the protest outside BCHS will bring on change within NLPS. The school division has been consistent with following the mandates, policies and procedures put forward by the Alberta government.
The next scheduled board meeting for NLPS is Wednesday, February 9th, 2022. There is scheduled Covid Discussion under the Board Business (section 7.3) of the agenda, though it is not known if the protest will be a part of this discussion.