Advertisement

Opposition grows to Quebec’s return to class in pandemic red zones

Click to play video: 'Montreal students want to be heard on return to school measure amid beginning of the third COVID-19 wave'
Montreal students want to be heard on return to school measure amid beginning of the third COVID-19 wave
WATCH: Students from Westmount High and Centennial High school held demonstrations on Tuesday to denounce the province's plan to send students from secondary 3, 4 and 5 back to full time, in person learning. As Global's Brayden Jagger Haines explains, the students say they don't feel safe going back to class and would prefer to maintain the hybrid learning model they have become accustomed to since September. – Mar 30, 2021

Sir Wilfrid Laurier is the latest school board to go against the government’s decision to have senior students return to full-time in-class learning.

The north shore board has suspended all classes Tuesday to allow teachers to prepare for the change, governing board chair Paolo Galati said.

“We’re not opposing the government, we are doing this in the name of safety and security of our students and staff,” Galati said.

Out of the nine high schools under the school board’s jurisdiction, six will be continuing to follow the hybrid model.

Parents were notified in a letter Monday night.

“All secondary 3,4,5 students will resume their original hybrid schedule until further notice,” the letter reads.

With more contagious variants on the rise and public health officials declaring a third wave, Galati says this was the best decision moving forward.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have to be sensitive with this situation,” Galati said.

Galati could not say when senior grades would be returning to in-class learning, adding the board will be discussing the possibility of an incremental transition at an upcoming board meeting.

Affected schools:

  • Laval Senior Academy
  • Sainte-Agathe Academy
  • Joliette High School
  • Laurentian Regional High School
  • Rosemere High School
  • Lake of Two mountains

Read more: Quebec in ‘third wave’ of COVID-19 pandemic, health minister says

Read next: Fireball facing lawsuit for selling mini bottles that don’t contain whisky

While the majority of senior-grade high school students in Quebec red zones returned to class full-time as of Monday, a number of school boards opted for a staggered approach.

Both the English Montreal and the Lester B. Pearson school boards will be welcoming students back to class in a systematic manner.

Only secondary 3 students will be returning to a full-time in-class environment.

The school board could not specify when secondary 4 and 5 students can return, only saying that the dates could vary from school to school.

All secondary 3 students for Lester B. Pearson schools will be back in class Wednesday after two scheduled pedagogical days.

Story continues below advertisement

Secondary 4 and 5 will also be welcomed back but only at half capacity.

The school board says the transitional approach is meant to ease the return for students and staff.

Read more: Montreal school boards take a staggered approach as senior grades return to class in red zones

Read next: Mexico’s richest man lists $80M NYC mansion and it could break records

Students protest return to school

High school students are also voicing their opposition.

A handful of secondary 4 and 5 students demonstrated outside Westmount High School Tuesday morning.

Students say the return to full-capacity classrooms poses “a serious danger” to their health and those in their immediate family.

“We have friends, we have families, let’s not make a mistake and put people’s lives at stake,” Brendan Schwartz chanted.

Schwartz called the government’s decision hypocritical, stating social distancing would be impossible in a classroom of up to 30 students at a time.

“We have to be very cautious, yet the government is putting us back into packed classrooms, not half classes like the hybrid model, which was working so well,” Schwartz said.

This sentiment is echoed by many students and staff at Westmount High school, according to social sciences teacher Robert Green.

Story continues below advertisement

“I’m outraged. It’s showing once again our government is out of touch with the reality on the ground,” Green said.

“We’ve managed to keep our community safe and we feel this has been put into jeopardy right now with this decision.”

Read more: Laval Mayor Marc Demers will not seek third term

Read next: Parents issue warning after teen dies from inhaling aerosol deodorant

Health Minister Christian Dubé stressed that keeping schools open remains a priority because the health crisis has been hard on teenagers’ mental health, but that the government will make changes if necessary.

Sponsored content