Back to school 2020
Quebec update on school reopening plan
With three weeks left before the start of the new school year, Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge unveiled the province's new back-to-school plan. It is an updated plan from the one presented in June, based on the most up-to-date information and new knowledge about the virus. The plan, presented at a media briefing on August 10, was developed in collaboration with the Public Health authorities.
For Minister Roberge, it is crucial to reopen schools for the well-being of children. He stated that it is entirely possible to do so safely, citing last fall's back-to-school experience in elementary schools as an example.
First of all, the wearing of face coverings will be mandatory for all Quebec students in Grade 5 and up. It will also be mandatory for all school personnel. The mask will have to be worn in common areas, lobbies and hallways, but not in classrooms. Visitors will be required to wear the mask at all times unless they are seated in an auditorium and keep a distance of 1.5 metres from each other. The Minister specified that the wearing of the face covering will be mandatory for children 10 years of age and older on school buses and public transit.
Another announced adjustment is that, contrary to what was said in June, students will not be divided into sub-groups of six students. The bubble concept will thus be extended to the whole class, but the class will have to remain stable (i.e., the same students will always have to stay together). In the same class, students will not have to maintain a physical distance from each other. However, a distance of two metres should be maintained between the students and staff members. A distance of 1 metre must be maintained between students in different classes who are in the common areas, including corridors.
Children who have special medical conditions or who have a relative at risk will be entitled to distance learning.
Other sanitary instructions, such as hand washing and disinfection of the premises, should continue.
--Uniformity of information
The government has developed consistent communication tools across the province, available at https://www.quebec.ca/en/education/back-to-school-plan-fall-covid-19/, to ensure that all parents have the same information. These documents will be sent to parents through the school service centres. In addition, the Minister said he is committed to transparency. If a positive case of COVID-19 is reported in a given school, all parents whose children attend that school will be informed.
In addition, in the event of a second wave or the occasional closure of schools, a minimum level of service will be provided so that all students have access to proper distance learning services. This will promote equity among distance education services, ensure that teachers and professionals are available to meet the various special needs of students, and lay the foundations for the work to be provided to students. The minimum number of hours of distance education will vary according to grade level.
[Local Journalism Initiative]