February 4, 2022
A backlash of unfavourable attention at a Bowden school for banishing unmasked students to a small boot room has resulted in the facility shifting to online learning until a resolution can be found.
The mask protest started Tuesday at the Bowden Grandview School when four students who refused to wear masks in class were asked to leave the school.
About 10 students unwilling to wear masks arrived at school Wednesday morning and were told by school officials they could not attend classes. The students refused to leave the school and teachers confined them to a small boot room for the day.
By Thursday, 12 to 14 students joined the mask protest, again refused to leave the school and spent another day in the boot room. The situation was shared by students and parents on social media which resulted in a backlash against the school.
Reports from students and parents to the Western Standard said the kids were being kept in a small boot room approximately 15 ft. by 20 ft. with temperatures recorded as high as 31C.
Students said they were expected to work in the space as they refused to leave the school, but said they were being refused power for their Chromebooks and requests for needed supplies from their lockers were not always accommodated.
James Waiting — a parent of one of the students staying in the boot room — said he learned from an RCMP officer when he arrived at the school teachers and the principal had received threatening calls and a semi-truck with an unknown driver had approached the school while honking its horn, which prompted the school to put the school into a “lock and hold” situation.
Waiting said by within an hour of school ending for the day, parents were sent a letter from the school’s principal Jeff Thompson.
“We are writing to let you know that learning at Bowden Grandview School will be moving online for Friday, February 4 and Monday, February 7,” said the letter.
“This is a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of our students and staff, following two days of significant disruption that emanated on social media and interrupted the proceedings of our school.”
The letter explained the events that had occurred at the school on both Wednesday and Thursday saying students refused to “comply with reasonable requests from staff and administration regarding masks.”
The letter said masking is a legal requirement for students when not seated at their desks and parents of students participating in the mask protest were contacted to pick up their child, but refused.