MONTREAL, Jan. 8, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - Premier François Legault announced on Wednesday, January 6, that Quebec would be moving into a lockdown period, which he called an "electroshock therapy," in order to respond to the ongoing critical situation in the province.
As stated by the Premier, the pandemic has worsened in Quebec, necessitating the implementation of more severe restrictions in an effort to prevent the situation from spiralling further out of control.
According to the government, 30% of COVID-19 cases arise from schools. In spite of the ongoing outbreaks, teachers and students will be returning to elementary schools on Monday while few improvements to sanitary measures have been presented.
Since spring, the QPAT submitted a series of recommendations to the Ministry of Education, raising teacher concerns regarding the government's plan to reopen schools, and suggesting general measures to make schools safe in the context of the pandemic.
In the fall, following a thorough review of the latest research on COVID-19 and in consultation with public health specialists, the QPAT sent letters to the Minister of Health and Social Services and the Director of National Public Health, submitting a series of recommendations to address problem areas and ensure that the health and safety of teachers and students would be protected, including the importance of physical distancing in the classroom, the availability of rapid testing and contact tracing, as well as taking action to address the issue of ventilation in the schools.
Earlier today, the Minister of Education announced a series of measures with the objective to alleviate the stress and anxiety of students and teachers in a school year which is exceptional. The QPAT is receiving positively the decision to cancel all end-of-year ministerial examinations, the reduction in the ponderation of the first report card and the commitment by the MEQ to finally provide teachers with a document identifying essential (core) knowledges, as has been requested by QPAT since last spring.
QPAT is perplexed by the absence of immediate and concrete additional measures to ensure that our schools will be safer for students and teachers. Minister Roberge reported that only a small sample of Quebec's schools air quality has been tested providing only a partial portrait of the situation in our schools and centres. Dr. Richard Masse, Director of Public Health, affirmed that students and teachers should not be in classrooms that are insufficiently ventilated while all elementary schools reopen as of this Monday without having a full portrait of the situation.
"Where are the improved sanitary measures for schools?" said Heidi Yetman, President of the QPAT. "Our classrooms continue to be areas of outbreak, but there seems to be few efforts to improve the situation. Ventilation remains a major concern. The government only tested the air quality of a very small sample of schools. It is unbelievable that the only measure being applied is the opening of windows. That's not enough. We are potentially sending students and teachers into unsafe classrooms. What is needed is a reduction in class size to allow for social distancing. Since the beginning of the pandemic, this government has been making decisions that are reactive instead of being proactive
The Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (APEQ-QPAT), represents 8,000 teachers in Quebec's English school boards. Its membership includes teachers from all sectors, including pre-school, primary, secondary, vocational and general adult education.
SOURCE Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers
For further information: Media Contact: Julie Montpetit, [email protected]qc.ca, 514-249-9653