With schools in Quebec expected to reopen in just a couple of weeks, there are still far more questions being asked than answered. The provinces teachers’ unions have requested the government delay the start date until after Labour Day, as teachers need more time to prepare. Understandably, it is adding to the apprehension and fear of the parents who will soon be sending their children into a highly questionable environment. Despite all the legitimate concerns being voiced and regardless of professional opinion – the CAQ government appears intent on sticking to their plan. However, there is now a significant and growing number of parents who are signing a petition demanding the option of online schooling, even suggesting live streams of each classroom as a possible way that would allow for simultaneous in-class and remote participation. However parents demand online schooling.
Ontario, with the second highest number of Covid-19 cases in Canada, has already given parents the option to choose online schooling. With Quebec being the epicenter of the pandemic since the start and having over 50% of the country’s cases to date, it begs the question why the government is moving so fast, before addressing the many issues and concerns at hand. It is the health and welfare of our children, teachers and their families at stake here. What the province is basing their decisions on remains unclear.
In the meantime, Julius Grey, a constitutional lawyer, has sent a letter of warning sent to Jean-François Roberge, Quebec’s Education Minister, on behalf of four mothers concerned for the health of their children and family members. He is challenging the province’s order that children must return to classes in the fall – without giving parents the option for online schooling. Sarah Gibson, one of the mothers he is representing, is the one who started the petition ‘Revise Quebec’s School Plan’. Put up last Sunday, within just 48 hours, it had 5,000 signatures. To date, at the writing of this article, there are now over 8,230 signatures and counting. The petition begins with the following:
“Quebec’s provincial government announced its back-to-school plans in June.” The policies include:
Mandatory in-class attendance for all children with the potential for alternating days only for students in their last two years of high school.
Children from K to Sec III will be grouped into “bubbles” of 6, within which no social distancing will be enabled. A one-meter distance is supposed to be kept between bubbles. A two-meter distance is to be kept between teachers and students.
Masks will not be mandatory in any scenario.
The only exemption to in-class presence is a doctor’s note specifying that the child has a relevant medical vulnerability.
There are a number of problems with this plan.
*For more details and to sign the petition you can go to: https://www.change.org/p/gouvernement-du-qu%C3%A9bec-r%C3%A9viser-le-plan-scolaire-du-qu%C3%A9bec-revise-quebec-s-school-plan-for-covid-19