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Coronavirus: Air quality concerns among reasons for Quebec teachers’ strike votes

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Air quality concerns among reasons for Quebec teachers’ strike votes' Coronavirus: Air quality concerns among reasons for Quebec teachers’ strike votes
WATCH: Quebec teachers are threatening to go on strike. Unions representing staff say their members are exhausted and that working conditions have deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic. As Global’s Raquel Fletcher reports, concerns about their own personal safety are also factoring into the decision. – Feb 1, 2021

Fifth grader Odessa Schulz from Montreal said her classmates and teacher were thrilled when she brought her homemade CO2 meter to school.

“I explained to them if it’s over 1000 it’s not good because there’s not enough fresh air in the room,” she said.

Odessa’s dad has a background in electronics and the family has been reading scientific journals since the start of the pandemic.

“Clearly ventilation is absolutely key so we would really love to see ventilation in the schools,” said her mother Jennifer Dorner.

Read more: Coronavirus: Quebec recommends against using portable air purifiers in schools

They said this relatively cheap and easy to build detector could be a solution to the hotly contested issue about poor air quality in schools.

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“Even though this little CO2 meter might not be the most accurate device, if everyone had one, all that information would make an accurate picture,” said Stephane Schulz, Odessa’s dad.

Teachers unions across the province say the Quebec government has not been taking their concerns about ventilation seriously.

“Premier Legault said something to this effect at a press conference: that the worst thing you can do is be inside with a bunch of people for more than 15 minutes. And what I said was: that’s what our teachers do everyday,” said Heidi Yetman, Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers president)

Read more: EMSB to buy air purifiers as Quebecers take issue of ventilation in classrooms into their own hands

During a virtual press conference Monday morning, teachers unions announced that combined 73 per cent of their members voted for a strike mandate. That number is even higher in the English system.

“Ninety-six per cent in favour of a strike tells you something. It tells you how angry the teachers are right now,” Yetman said.

Unions said teachers are exhausted. They are asking for their workload to be reduced and their salaries increased.

“Our members are seeing offers with better pay and better conditions all the time,” said Éric Cyr, interim president of the Fédération du personnel professionnel des collèges (FPPC-CSQ)

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Unions said they hope they don’t have to go on strike, but they want the government to know school staff are at the end of their rope.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Quebec Public health cautions against air purifiers in schools' Coronavirus: Quebec Public health cautions against air purifiers in schools
Coronavirus: Quebec Public health cautions against air purifiers in schools – Jan 8, 2021

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