Quebec Premier François Legault says extracurricular activities in the province’s schools will be able to resume next month if the return to school goes well amid the novel coronavirus crisis.
“We have a major challenge facing us in the next few days,” he told reporters on Friday. “We have close to one million kids going back to school so we have to be careful.”
“Some parents are scared about this situation. So we decided to keep the children in schools in one classroom including for sports and art. It’s the first step.”
The move comes amid backlash over the provincial government’s cancellation of sports, arts and other activities outside of designated classroom bubbles. This has also forced sports education programs to be put on ice.
An online petition against the cancellation had garnered 40,000 signatures as of Friday morning. A protest was also held in Quebec City, calling on the government to reverse the decision.
Legault says if there are no outbreaks of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and other health directives are respected, then those activities can begin starting Sept. 14.
“Our priority is children’s learning but it’s also physical health and mental health of our children that concern us,” he said.
Chris Viau, director of athletics at Lower Canada College, welcomed the decision permit sports and other activities outside the classroom to resume.
“I feel a lot of relief,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction. “Our student body will feel better about it, our parents will feel better about it and our coaches as well.”
— With files from Global News’ Kwabena Oduro and the Canadian PressView link »