A Quebec school board association is questioning the provincial government’s proposal to redeploy educational workers to the health sector amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, Health Minister Danielle McCann signed into effect an order under the Public Health Act which would make it possible for employees working in the education sector (i.e., teachers, professionals, support staff, administrators) to be redeployed to the health sector, should there be a need.
This order applies to those working for school boards and Cegeps.
This move is in response to the on-going health crisis at government-owned and private nursing homes.
The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) says its staff has already been providing services during the pandemic.
“The education network has been contributing by staffing and keeping open emergency daycare centres for essential workers, but the notion of requiring educational workers to go and work in the health-care network raises all sorts of questions,” said Russell Copeman, executive director at QESBA.
One of the questions being the safety of QESBA staff and training of their personnel, Copeman added.
“There’s support staff, professional staff, there’s custodial staff — none of them having training in dealing with situations involving a pandemic,” he said.
“People who might not have received the right training may expose themselves to a harmful situation, may spread COVID-19 through the lack of training.”
Although school staff has been working to provide educational services to do it, Copeman fears some staff members won’t have a job to go back to when schools re-open.
“Our personnel and staff are needed, some are needed right now, our senior management are still working trying to coordinate and prepare materials for parents. Buildings still have to be secure and kept ready — all those people will be needed once we start ramping up to get back to normal life regardless when that is.”
In a statement, the Lester. B. Pearson School Board said:
“In regular times, we are partners with our colleagues in health and social services. In these exceptional times, we understand the importance of working together to flatten the curve, contain the spread, and help those ill recover as quickly as possible. We also wish to reassure you that the health and safety of our employees are a priority for us, and we will continue to emphasize this in our collaboration with our health partners”.
The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) also sent out a message to all the staff members.
“It is important to remember that the EMSB has not yet been called upon. But as the largest English school board in Montreal, it is quite possible that we will be called upon to help our colleagues in the Health sector. And if we are, then we will rise to the occasion.
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More instruction should soon be available.
“The coming weeks will tell what requests have been made and how well they can be responded to under the circumstances,” said Copeman
Global News reached out to numerous teachers, but they refused to speak because they don’t have enough information and they’re waiting for directives from the school boards and government before they act and speak out.