After 35 years of career, a social worker from a high school in Center-du-Québec postponed his retirement, determined not to leave the students behind in the difficult context of COVID-19.
“We were two weeks away from presenting a play when it all ended in March. I told myself that it was not true that I was going to end my career like this because of the pandemic. I still have the passion and I want to live a normal year to carry out the projects with the young people ”, explained to the QMI Agency Mario Fortin, who works in the Spiritual Animation and Community Engagement Service of the high school. La Samare, in Plessisville.
The 57-year-old is animated by the pleasure of seeing the students walk through various extracurricular events.
Each year, it organizes several activities which mobilize nearly 250 students from the school. Humanitarian trips to Guatemala, plays, Normand-Maurice Day: the initiatives are usually numerous. But this is no longer the case.
“School life is the trademark of the polyvalente La Samare, it is a very good school, but the pandemic is shattering all of this. It’s very hard for the students and the management, ”said Mario Fortin.
Mr. Fortin is currently on sick leave due to the new coronavirus. His health condition places him in a risk category. He is impatient to find a normal rhythm of life. He knows that special needs will be felt in adolescents and fears the possible consequences when he considers the possibility that the situation will persist for several more months.
“For many students, activities were their motivation to get up in the morning. I fear a wave of dropouts, school demotivations, depression and anxiety attacks. I’m afraid. COVID-19 may create something worse for young people, ”said the mayor of Plessisville.
“In the current context, limiting extracurricular activities is probably the sacrifice to be made,” he added. However, a school is much more than the educational component. It is a living environment. It is a turning point to train the student […]. It worries me that young people cannot live these life-changing experiences. ”
Mario Fortin hopes that the government will be able to help students psychologically in the coming months. He still doesn’t know when he can return to work, but in his own way he wants to continue to make a difference.