More than 20 teachers from a high school in Quebec’s Laurentians northwest of Montreal were sent into preventive isolation on Thursday after two of them tested positive for COVID-19.
This forced the school to ask around 500 Grade 10 and 11 students to stay home on Friday because there was no one available to teach them.
Spokeswoman Anik Gagnon said the decision was made after two members of the teaching staff at Polyvalente Deux-Montagnes tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the first day of classes.
She said the students were asked to stay home until Monday while the school tries to recruit substitute teachers or explores other options to overcome the lack of personnel.
The 20 teachers will be in isolation until Sept 4, and will all be tested for COVID-19.
Quebec Premier François Legault said on Friday that while he understands the isolation of 20 teachers has an impact on students, he described it as a “very small number when compared to a million children going back to school.”
Sylvain Mallette, president of a federation of teachers’ unions, the Federation autonome de l’enseignement, says the incident highlights the need for schools to have access to an accelerated testing process.
“The question is, how long did it take to get access to a test, and how long to get the results of the test?” Mallette said in an interview Friday.
He said the Quebec government hasn’t followed through on a promise to offer teachers quicker access to tests and to results.
–with files from Global News’ Alessia Maratta