MONTREAL – For the start of the school year, the face covering will be compulsory for students from the 5th year of elementary school and for the following years, announced Monday in Montreal the Minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge.
This protective face cover against the coronavirus should be worn in places common to all, such as lobbies and hallways, but not in classrooms, he said.
The concept of subgroups or “bubbles” of protection in classrooms, which was announced in June, is also changed.
“The bubble is class. Inside the classroom, we can mix. It is the teachers who travel, ”illustrated Minister Roberge. In this way, the young person should be around roughly the same thirty students every day, thus reducing his exposure to the coronavirus, the authorities ruled.
For outdoor recess, face coverings will not be required from students.
For consistency, the mask will also become compulsory in public transport for children aged 10 and over as of August 24, said Minister Roberge.
In preschool, there will be no face covering required, but staff will have to wear personal protective equipment, as is the case in daycare services, added the Minister of Education.
Other guidelines, such as more frequent hand washing and disinfection, will continue to be applied.
Alongside Minister Roberge, the national director of public health, Horacio Arruda, also deplored the fact that “there is less hand washing since there is a face covering”.
In case of problems
The minister also promised that parents would be quickly informed if a case of COVID-19 were to break out in the classroom or school. This is not to panic parents, but to be transparent, he assured.
In addition, children who have a health problem “related to COVID” and validated by a doctor’s note may not attend their classes in person and be entitled to distance education. The School Service Center – which replaced the school board – must guarantee this access to distance education, where applicable.
Likewise, a vulnerable teacher who has a health problem “linked to COVID” and who has it certified by a doctor’s note may benefit from accommodations. He could, for example, offer distance education from home, illustrated Minister Roberge.
“We will not run out of technological tools,” he assured, stressing that the ministry had bought them for a value of $ 100 million since mid-June.
The minister wanted to be reassuring, both for parents and for teachers. He noted that the level of knowledge of the coronavirus had evolved since the start of the pandemic and that this plan was precisely aimed at adjusting the fire according to this new knowledge.
He also recalled that the pediatricians themselves stressed the importance for children to return to school, to socialize, to see their friends, their teachers, to continue their learning on site.
Teachers and directors
Present on site, Josée Scalabrini, president of the Federation of Teaching Unions, affiliated to the CSQ, which represents the majority of elementary and secondary teachers, showed signs of openness and relief.
“We know that we have made a big step if we compare to spring. When we had received the first plan, there were a lot of questions. We were talking about inconsistencies in the circles, ”commented Ms. Scalabrini.
In the ministerial plan that was exposed, “there seems to be greater consistency in what will be done from one environment to another,” she said. However, she will remain on the lookout and wants communication and listening to be there in both directions.
School administrators, for their part, believe that “everything is in place for a successful start to school.”
The president of the Association québécoise du personnel de direction des écoles, Carl Ouellet, said he believed that making the face covering compulsory for young people in the third cycle of elementary and secondary schools “will facilitate travel within the school. ‘establishment”.
Lia Lévesque, The Canadian Press
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