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Quebec teachers and parents want concerns heard before kids return to class on Monday

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Many holding their breath until Quebec firms up back to school plans' COVID-19: Many holding their breath until Quebec firms up back to school plans
WATCH: Quebec's back to school plan is still unknown. Despite students scheduled to head back to the classroom on Monday Jan. 17, the final decision is expected on Thursday. But as Olivia O'Malley reports, parents and teachers are raising concerns about safety surrounding the return. – Jan 12, 2022

Despite students being scheduled to head back to the classroom on Monday, parents and teachers are raising concerns about safety surrounding the return.

Mother Stacy Lawton told Global News she’s torn by the decision to send her four boys back to the classroom.

“They need the stability, they need the routine, they need the socialization,” Lawton said, but adds that she worries about the province’s lack of a plan to control COVID-19 in schools.

“It’s just there’s not enough information about what the plan is, how they’re going to handle everything and first-hand, like, it’s so contagious,” she said.

On Wednesday evening, Quebec confirmed that the public health department approved the province’s Jan. 17 return date for elementary and high school students across the province.

Read more: Quebec schools will reopen for in-person learning as planned on Jan. 17

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“[It’s] unacceptable for [the government] to expect everybody to be ready on Monday morning,” said Corinne Payne, the Quebec Federation of Parents’ Committees executive director.

Payne says parents need to be informed well in advance so they can plan accordingly. The province originally told Quebecers that it would confirm the date on Thursday, Jan. 13.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Quebec versus Ontario' COVID-19: Quebec versus Ontario
COVID-19: Quebec versus Ontario – Jan 12, 2022

Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers president Heidi Yetman, said on Monday teachers want to be at school because they do not like being online.

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“However, under the circumstances, we really believe that we should not be going in presence on Monday,” she said.

Read more: Quebec CEGEPs, universities mull over when to bring back in-person learning

She said measures like N95 masks for teachers and rapid tests for all grades need to be available.

“Right now, they’re only available in elementary and only upon a recent new development, they’re available for staff,” said Yetman.

Air purifiers are also on their list of measures that need to be in place. The government has refused to accept they have any benefit. Some English school boards have gone ahead and purchased their own.

“If they’re well installed and well maintained, there’s evidence that air purifiers in classrooms work,” said Quebec English School Boards Association executive director Russell Copeman.

“Certainly we have the confidence that school boards and school managers can install air purifiers correctly and maintain them.”

 

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