Tanvi Pandhi, a Grade 12 student at Fleetwood Park Secondary, took part in the Surrey school district’s survey of students in grades 10 to 12, with a focus on health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Tanvi Pandhi, a Grade 12 student at Fleetwood Park Secondary, took part in the Surrey school district’s survey of students in grades 10 to 12, with a focus on health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)


Surrey students voice concerns about mask wearing, distancing in schools

Surrey school district has been surveying students in grades 10 to 12

While students seem to be “overwhelmingly” following the masks protocols in high-traffic areas in schools, there are concerns about what’s happening outside of the buildings.

Since the school year started, the district has had two surveys for students in grades 10 to 12.

The first had about 2,600 respondents, according to Surrey school district Superintendent Jordan Tinney and through that came the follow-up survey that focused on the challenges of managing health and safety protocols.

Then on Thursday (Nov. 26), the district – Tinney included – met online with some of the students to further discuss the survey and the concerns.

“This is us trying to keep student leadership alive during a pandemic, and in its own way, we’re able to reach thousands of students online.”

INTERACTIVE TABLE: COVID-19 exposure notices at Surrey schools

One of those students was Tanvi Pandhi, a Grade 12 student at Fleetwood Park Secondary School. Based on school exposure notices from the district and Fraser Health, the school has had five COVID-19 exposure notices sent out by Nov. 25.

She said it was the beginning of bridging that “communication gap” between students and administration staff, who are helping to make some of the policies.

“It’s important for them to know our opinion as well because they aren’t the ones coming into schools.”

Asked what some of her biggest concerns with health and safety protocols, Tanvi said mask wearing.

“You can’t always social distance, especially in a building with 1,500 students. It’s so hard to social distance,” she explained. “For me, the most important thing during the pandemic, is to wear a mask at all time.”

When Tanvi’s at school, she said most students follow the rules and protocols.

“In school it happens. They’re sanitizing, they’re social distancing, they’re wearing a mask. But as soon as they’re out of the building, it’s like cohorts are mix and matching, no one’s wearing a mask.”

But she said it’s not just the students’ fault, adding that she’s seen some adults not following rules as well.

Tanvi said that if people were more proactive, and following the rules, “this would probably not be as bad.”

“How far they can take it before they’re going to shut down every school. I feel, sooner or later, they are going to move online unless we start following the rules and we start doing our part. And since we’re clearly not, schools are shutting down, the rates of the cases are going higher and higher.”

Tinney told the Now-Leader the district is trying to remind students and the public that “masks are actually required in the hallways and anytime you’re outside of your cohort.”

“In the survey, we asked that explicitly, ‘Do you wear a mask when you’re in the hall?’” said Tinney, adding that it “overwhelmingly” looks like students are following that rule.

“But their number one piece around the challenge with following the safety protocols, is maintaining physical distance outside their cohort,” he noted.

“Now what isn’t in the survey, and we won’t know, is that a choice? Are they hanging out with their friends and they choose not to physically distance or are they saying schools are crowded?”

For Emma Allen, a Grade 11 student at Earl Marriott Secondary, she said getting to take part in the survey was helpful “because I felt like my voice was being heard.”


Emma Allen, a Grade 11 student at Earl Marriott Secondary, took part in the Surrey school district’s survey of students in grades 10 to 12, with a focus on health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

“It felt nice to see kids from all around the district feeling the way I felt, and getting to communicate that with people who can actually do something about it was really, really cool.”

She said at Earl Marriott, which has had five exposure notices sent out by Nov. 22, she feels they’re handling the pandemic well, and “within the classrooms we’re feeling safe.”

“But it’s chaotic,” she said, referring to the quarter system of two classes for 10 weeks at a time.

Emma said the classes are two hours, and that move into “self-directed” learning for online can be “tricky” for some, including herself.

Asked how she felt about coming back to school in the fall, Emma said she had “some anxiety.”

“I was very nervous, obviously, going to school in a global pandemic is exactly what it sounds like. However, with most of the students wearing masks majority of the time and when we can’t, we’re trying to social distance,” she said.

“I had some anxiety, however being in class has eased it a little. But then every time you get a notification that someone at your school has COVID, you’re a little bit stressed out about it.”

Emma said “about 90 per cent” of sudents are wearing masks, but she would “prefer it if it was mandatory in classrooms.”

“We’re doing our best to keep each other safe, and we just want everyone to make smart choices. If we’re doing our part, we want everyone to do their part so we can just go back to some form of normal.”

READ ALSO: Surrey music teacher at home after two-week hospital stay battling COVID-19, Nov. 28, 2020

READ ALSO: COVID-19 outbreak declared at second Surrey elementary school, Nov. 27, 2020


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dyllan Petrin is charged related to an ongoing investigation in Surrey involving a kidnapping and assault that occurred in July, 2019. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Man arrested in connection to kidnapping, murder investigations: Surrey RCMP

Police say Dyllan Petrin was arrested in Vancouver

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey chief constable says ‘comprehensive’ public engagement to be done this year

Norm Lipinski says Surrey Police Service has ‘good momentum’

Surrey-raised forward Jujhar Khaira in action with Edmonton Oilers. (Photo: nhl.com)
Q&A: Surrey’s Jujhar Khaira credits parents for their hard work on his path to NHL

Port Kells-raised player talks about his journey to pro hockey with Edmonton Oilers

The interventional oncology team at Surrey Memorial Hospital. The Surrey Hospitals Foundation has invested in innovative technologies to kickstart a new Interventional Oncology service at Surrey Memorial Hospital. (Submitted photo: Yvonne Chiang)
Surrey Memorial home to machines for ‘minimally invasive’ cancerous tumours treatments

Technology can freeze, burn tumours without need for surgery

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Snow is forecasted to appear in parts of Metro Vancouver this weekend. (Black Press Media files)
Snow forecasted for parts of Lower Mainland this weekend

Environment Canada is predicting flurries and snow from Saturday to Monday evening

Most Read