Teachers call for less restrictive measures for fall

In a petition sent to the province's education minister, a group of teachers say that it is unfair to impose measures on students such as keeping them in "bubbles" with small groups of kids

This letter is in response to the announcement made on June 16th by the Minister of Education of Quebec, Mr. Jean-François Roberge, concerning the plan to group students into bubbles of five or six people at the start of the school year in the fall. We are a group of parents, teachers, school directors and physicians who are very concerned about the well-being of our children and students.

We now know that children and adolescents are at a much lower risk of both getting sick with coronavirus, as well as transmitting it to others. The data from countries where schools have remained open during the pandemic is reassuring. We believe that it is unfair to impose such prohibitive measures on our children and adolescents, who have already suffered far too much from the restrictive measures during this pandemic.

As parents, we want our children and teens to return to their normal childhood and have the opportunity to fully develop within a school environment. As teachers and principals, we recognize that the utopia of a bubble of five to six students will not be feasible in a classroom  and we worry that it will harm our students. Socialization is extremely important for our young people and it is unreasonable to permit them to have only four close contacts at school, and in addition to actively prevent them from having any more! It will be unrealistic and untenable for school staff to police teenagers from approaching and interacting with their friends throughout the school day.

With the current restrictions imposed by the government, the schools will not be ready for the start of the school year in two months. They will need to purchase a significant number of masks for students to wear in the common areas, reorganize the schools with hand washing stations and transform the gymnasiums into multiple small cafeterias. These gymnasiums will no longer be able to be used for physical education classes, team sports, music practice or theatre – activities that are all an integral part of school. We understand that public health feels that a gathering of several hundred teenagers for lunch is too risky. However, we need to urgently find a compromise that does not require students to spend their entire day, including their breaks, sitting at their desk and eating in their classroom with the same four students for months at a time!

We are asking for the URGENT creation of a committee including the Ministry of Education and Higher Studies, public health, as well as, teachers and school directors, with the goal of finding a compromise that will sure a safe school year, but that will not harm the development of our young people!

To sign the petition, click here.