Just two weeks after the controversial reopening of elementary schools outside the Greater Montreal area, the CAQ government’s Ministry of Education reported that at least 19 elementary school students and 22 staff have been infected with the Covid-19 virus as of May 25th. Most of the 41 cases were connected to schools in the Monteregie and Laurentians regions with 10 cases each, and another 7 cases in the Mauricie region. With only 60 out of the 72 school boards having provided information to the Ministry at that point, those numbers are now proving to be even higher. Since then, Ecole St-Paul in Trois-Rivieres had to temporarily close last week, as they were awaiting test results after one of their staff members had tested positive. The results confirmed that seven teachers had contracted the virus, although some of them could have been infected before the schools reopened. At a daycare centre in the Quebec City region, a child was sent home after one of their parents tested positive.
At the news briefing in Quebec City on May 29th, Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s Director of Public Health said, “There have been cases in schools, they have not caused any significant negative impacts… some cases are to be expected as society returns to normal, but the situation is under control.” He then added, “It’s normal that by having the daycare, the school being open to the community, there can be cases… the advantage in those areas is that they’re young children and we didn’t put any personnel who was high-risk.”
Earlier in the week, Premier Francois Legault stated, ‘this week the return to school had been a success despite the number of cases’. It gives one pause to question whether the government has an educated, realistic plan or if their decisions as based on speculation and guesswork.
The schools reopened on May 11th, comprising approximately 45 to 50 percent of the province’s students in private and public schools. Cegeps and High Schools in the Greater Montreal area are scheduled to open only at the end of August. In the meantime, as of May 29th, Quebec has reported more than 50,600 Covid-19 cases and close to 4,400 deaths attributed to the virus. As the numbers continue to rise, businesses are now slowly reopening and emergency measures are being relaxed.