The president of the English Parents Committee association, which represents more than 200,000 parents across the province, is calling for more details about the measures.
Katherine Korakakis said families need to know more about what happens if there is a novel coronavirus outbreak in a classroom or school. There are also questions about how vaccine passports could be enforced for teens taking part in extracurricular activities or sports.
“There is information missing for sure,” she told Global News.
Education Minister Jean-François Roberge unveiled the highly-anticipated plan Wednesday as the school year looms and COVID-19 cases jump. Classroom bubbles have been eliminated and masks will be required in schools — but not in class, outside or in after-school care.
Vaccination passports will be required for some “high-risk” extracurricular activities or events but the province has not yet given details about what that includes.
It’s not quite a return to pre-pandemic conditions and while Roberge described it as a “cautious and responsible” framework to safely open schools as the health crisis drags on, some parents disagree.
Lauren Wodnicki has an eight-year-old daughter who made the switch to online learning last year due to a medical condition. Prior to the pandemic, Charlotte Rose’s respiratory issues forced her to miss nearly 40 school days per year but last year she only missed four while learning at home.
Wodnicki said she was waiting to hear what’s in store for children who are vulnerable and at-risk like Charlotte — so far, she says, she has few answers.
“Not only did his plan shock me because of the Delta variant but because they did not even mention children who were exempt last year,” she said.
“I was shocked and I think it’s a very dangerous plan.”
Masks not being mandatory in class is another concern for Wodnicki since she worries more parents and teachers will also get sick. Since Charlotte is too young to be vaccinated, Wodnicki hopes her daughter can continue with virtual learning during the pandemic.
“I won’t send her in a classroom in these conditions,” she said.
Wayne Yearwood has an 11-year-old son in school. He also expressed concerns about removing masks in classrooms.
“I don’t know what’s stopping COVID from going in the classroom,” he said.
However, the education minister did say if children or teenagers want to wear their mask in class, they can. He also specified that measures could be adapted if the pandemic’s grip tightens again.
Heidi Yetman, president of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers, said masks should probably be used in the classroom, especially in elementary schools.
Teachers are also worried about nixing classroom bubbles and allowing students to mingle more than last year “considering that the virus, the Delta variant, spreads like wildfire,” according to Yetman.
In the meantime, Montreal’s English-language school boards are preparing for another school year marred by the pandemic.
The Lester B. Pearson School Board said it is awaiting more information from the government, but that it will follow all COVID-19 directives and the English Montreal School Board has not excluded adding more measures if necessary.
—With files from Global News’ Dan Spector and Amanda Jelowicki