On Monday, Jean-François Roberge, the Quebec Minister of Education, issued revisions to the government’s back to school plan for the 2020-21 school year.
Among the revision, upon returning to school in the fall, students in grade 5, or higher, will have to wear a mask in all common areas, such as corridors, though masks will not be mandatory in classrooms in order to facilitate communication between students and teachers.
According to Jean-Francois Roberge, information is the key component in the Government’s back to school plan, with parents taking precedence. In the event of outbreak, the parents will be informed as well as given specifics about the class(es) in which the outbreak occurred.
With new recommendations being rolled out by Public Health authorities, the Quebec government made adjustments to its back to school plan in hopes, according to Minister Roberge, of "guaranteeing optimal learning conditions for Quebec students and school staff, in a safe environment.”
During the press conference, Roberge explained why it’s important for the government to have students physically return to school in the coming weeks.
Back to school plan in detail:
Wearing a face covering in schools
Wearing a face covering will be mandatory for all students Grade 5 and higher, including high-school, vocational training and general adult education as well as for all school staff members. When traveling to and from school on a bus, or public transport, masks will be mandatory. A face covering will not be mandatory in classrooms, nor in cafeterias. Although it is recommended, a face covering will not be mandatory for preschoolers and the first two cycles of elementary school.
Visitors must wear a face covering at all times, except when they are seated in a room where performing arts are presented, such as an auditorium, but a distance of 1.5 meters between people must be respected at all times.
The Quebec Public Health Directorate no longer requires classes to be divided into sub-groups of six students. The bubble concept has been broadened to encompass an entire class, which must remain stable in order to minimize any potential transmission. While students in the same class will not have to uphold physical distancing, the 2-meter of social distance must be upheld between students and staff members, the same is encouraged though not mandatory in preschool. In preschools and elementary schools, a distance of 1 meter between students from different classes who circulate in common areas, including corridors, must also be maintained.
In accordance with the government’s plan unveiled in June, all students will return to school in the fall, with the exception of those with a special medical condition. A distance learning program will be offered to the student by the school service centers. In order to reassure parents, students with a loved one with a particular medical condition may also be eligible for this service.
In the event of an outbreak
An update of the INSPQ’s Guide for the management of COVID-19 cases and contact tracing in schools will be sent to school organizations on August 17. This guide includes a procedure aimed at informing parents of the actions that will be implemented if a student exhibits symptoms, if a student tests positive for a COVID-19 test, or if several cases are detected within the same class or several classrooms. General information on this subject is also available on Québec.ca/re-entry.
An adapted version of the Self-Care Guide for the Coronavirus Disease has also been developed to allow parents to make the best possible decisions during the pandemic. This guide allows parents to know the symptoms of COVID-19 and the basic care that can be given to a child, and to know when to contact the coronavirus info line. It will be sent to parents before the start of the school year and will be available in French and English on Québec.ca/coronavirus.