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Quebec premier ‘confident’ about revised coronavirus measures as school start looms

Quebecers react to province’s back to school measures
WATCH: The Quebec government announced its back-to-school plan on Monday, and many are concerned about some of the new measures.

Quebec Premier François Legault is confident about his government’s revamped novel coronavirus plan for the education system as students head back to school later this month.

Speaking to a group of reporters, Legault said Tuesday he is pleased with how the easing of restrictions aimed to curb the spread of COVID-19 has gone so far.

The results have been positive, he added, citing the reopening of stores and Quebecers donning their masks.

“We’re around 100 cases per day, which is good when you take into consideration the large reopening we had in the last few months,” he said. “So we’re very happy.”

“The next challenge is the reopening of schools, but I am confident.”

READ MORE: Quebec students Grade 5 and up will have to wear masks in school hallways but not classrooms

The Quebec government has revised its coronavirus measures for the school year, including implementing mandatory masks for staff and students Grade 5 and above in common spaces such as hallways. They can wear masks in classrooms, but they won’t be required.

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As part of the plan announced Monday, physical distancing will no longer be mandatory within a classroom. The group of students will not be separated in distinct bubbles previously announced, but their entire class will act as an “extended” bubble.

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All elementary and high school students will be expected to return to school at the end of the month, but children with significant health problems will be offered a remote learning option.

The province is also providing an option for students in Grades 10 and 11 to physically attend classes one out of every two days, if their school cannot organize stable classroom bubbles.

Despite Legault’s praise, the plan has been met with mixed reaction from groups representing teachers and parents in Quebec.

English Parents’ Association reacts to back-to-school plan
English Parents’ Association reacts to back-to-school plan

The Fédération des comités de parents du Québec, for its part, has applauded the changed measures as the new school year looms.

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“We all learned from our distance school experience last spring. We don’t want to repeat the same mistakes,” said president Kévin Roy.

Katherine Korakakis, president of the English Parents’ Committee Association, said she was glad the education minister listened to their demands. While she wanted to see school continue to be optional, she is pleased online learning will be offered to children who are at-risk during the pandemic.

“We think that’s a fair compromise,” she said.

The Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers raised safety concerns after the new measures were unveiled Monday.

“We’re throwing teachers into a room where there is no social distancing, and no masks,” said president Heidi Yetman. “So it’s kind of the opposite of what we’re asking the public to do.”

— With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher and the Canadian Press