Quebec is loosening health restrictions for university and CEGEP students, allowing them now to attend classes in person once a week.
The government is worried about students’ mental health from prolonged isolation.
Spencer Beaulne, 18, is in his last semester at Dawson College, having spent most of his time learning online — an education he feels is inferior to learning in person.
“It’s definitely harder to communicate socially with the teacher,” he explained.
However, he’s not a fan of the idea to allow students back into the classroom one day a week. He said he wouldn’t feel safe with students travelling from all over the province.
“I feel like it would be not healthy because we’d be bringing in students from all over,” he said. “I don’t even come from the city. I come from the Eastern Townships.”
The government assures that students like Beaulne will be able to continue online if they choose, but it is also worried about students’ mental health from prolonged isolation. The province’s health experts say they have weighed the risks, recommending a gradual return to class in person.
“That’s why we’re going progressively. We don’t want to have to close up again in a couple weeks,” said Dr. Richard Massé.
The government will provide procedural masks for free. In red zones, classes will be reduced to 50-per cent capacity.
The opposition is in favour of the decision.
“This generation was considered very knowledgeable about the digital way of doing things, so therefore the government thought: ‘You know, we don’t have to worry too much about them.’ But the reality is that they need social contacts. They need to discover what a CEGEP is like; they need to discover what a university is like,” said Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade.
“I feel like I’ve missed a lot of the CEGEP experience because I was only there for the first semester,” said Katie Pallet-Wiesel.
The commerce student at Dawson College thinks it’s risky to go back to class now when there are still so many active cases of COVID-19 in Montreal.
“I think changing in the middle of the semester is just going to add more stress,” she said.