With back to school looming for millions of young Quebecers, teachers say they need more time to prepare and are pushing for the start of school to be delayed.
“We ask the minister, and so did the French union, to postpone the beginning of school until after Labour Day in order to give an extra week to teachers for training to prepare themselves just in case schools are closed,” said Heidi Yetman of Quebec’s Provincial Teacher’s Association.
“Training also for COVID-19 because if masks become mandatory, teachers will be the ones in the classrooms explaining to students how to wear and store them properly.”
On Monday, the health minister confirmed that Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge will update the back-to-school plan next week.
Parents and teachers say they hope they’ll be consulted before the plan is put in place.
“Parents are his [Roberge’s] audience — we’re the ones that are going to decide to send our kids back to school, we need to be part of the process,” said Adam Gordon, Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board parent committee chairman.
“We don’t have unions like the teachers and other professionals and we need an opportunity to be heard.”
The opposition also wants to be involved in talks.
As a result of “ongoing silence,” Liberal education critic Marwah Rizqy has turned to public health director Horacio Arruda for answers. She sent a lengthy letter asking questions, which she says parents need answered.
For example, she asks, if a child shows symptoms of COVID-19, what measures will be put in place to avoid contamination?
She also asks, if a school staff member experiences symptoms do they have to isolate until they receive results?
Rizqy also wants to know if masks will be mandatory in high schools.
“In high school, all the kids are 12 years and more, so are they going to be wearing a mask?” said Rizqy. “If yes, do we have enough masks for them? Are we going to pay for it? Is the minister of education ordering enough masks for back to school?”
In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for the education minister confirmed that the back-to-school plan would be updated and the minister will hold a press conference next week on the subject.
“Discussions are continuing between the ministry of education and public health, particularly regarding the wearing of masks.”
He added that the minister will be happy to answer any questions and concerns during his press conference.
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