Students protest COVID mandates outside HHSS

Students and adults, some who are parents of HHSS students, protested outside the school Feb. 11

Approximately 20 high school students and parents protested vaccine mandates and masking rules outside Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Feb. 11.
“We’re trying to get things back open and get our school opened up,” said student Darian Maddock. Maddock said he supported vaccinations and masking but was frustrated with how COVID-19 rules have disrupted student life.
Spencer Upton, a student who waved a Canadian flag on top of the train alongside County Road 21, said, “we’re at a school, not a senior’s home or doctor’s. I feel we don’t need a mask here.”
Multiple peer-reviewed studies report masks help to reduce transmission of a number of air-borne illnesses such as COVID-19.
The protest was part of an Ontario-wide school walkout.
The gathering in Haliburton was joined by adults, some of whom were parents of HHSS students. Parent Robyn Shaw said she attended because she is alarmed by rules such as vaccination certificates that she said are prejudiced against people who aren’t vaccinated. Premier Doug Ford said on Feb. 14 that vaccine passports will be eliminated as of March 1. “That terrifies me. I just thought if Canada couldn’t fight off what was happening, we were never going to be able to,” she said.
She said she wants Canadians to be able to choose to be vaccinated or not without facing restrictions.
“I want people to be able to choose what’s right for them,” she said.
Data from the HKPR health unit shows vaccines, and especially a third booster shot, are a key reason why cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 are declining.
“Certainly, data from published studies, data from provincial numbers and local data emphasize the role vaccination has in presenting serious illness,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Natalie Bocking said.
Since July 1, 41.9 per cent of people admitted to intensive care units with COVID-19 have been unvaccinated. Since the number of vaccinated people is nearly nine times larger than the population of unvaccinated people, there is a far larger proportion of unvaccinated individuals requiring urgent care for COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated across Canada.
The HHSS protest occurred in tandem with ongoing rallies in Ottawa and other major cities, blockades in key border crossings such as Windsor (now disbanded) and even ‘freedom convoy’ rallies in Haliburton County.
A Facebook page, Haliburton Freedom Rally, has garnered more than 1,500 follows.
It’s unclear what percentage of the group resides in Haliburton County.
Members of the group promoted two rallies in Minden as well as the Feb. 11 school event. No incidents have been reported at these events.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enacted the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canada’s history Feb. 14. He said the decision, to be voted on by the House of Commons and Senate, aims to “supplement provincial and territorial capacity to address the blockades and occupations.”
On Feb. 13, Ontario premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in the province, stating “it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along with critical infrastructure.”
Shaw said the movement is about peace and hope, along with the message of “freedom of choice.” “Who cares whoever has started this convoy,” she said. “This is people like you, and me, and our parents and our sisters and our brothers fighting for our rights.”