All students will be heading back to school in the Fall
The Government of Quebec has confirmed that all preschool, elementary and secondary school students will be back to school in September, everywhere in Quebec. The announcement was made by Education Minister Jean-François Roberge during a press briefing on June 16, where he unveiled the government’s back to school plan for the next school year.
Quebec’s public health authorities have given a preliminary green light to the government’s return plan, considering the overall improvement of the epidemiological situation in Quebec in recent weeks, as well as the success of elementary school re-openings in May outside the Montreal Metropolitan Community.
Preschool, elementary, and secondary 1, 2 and 3
All preschool, elementary, and secondary 1, 2 and 3 students will be 100 per cent present in the schools, according to the usual ratios. Classes will be organized in sub-groups of six students or less. This will allow students to interact and work by eliminating distancing within these small groups. They will be like family members, according to the minister. These students will not be required to follow physical distancing rules. However, sub-groups will be required to keep a one-metre distance from other sub-groups. And each sub-group will keep a two-metre distance from teachers.
The teachers will move around according to the subjects to be taught while the students will always remain in the same room. For students in Secondary 1, 2 and 3, the timetable for classes and special projects will be reorganized according to the principle of closed class groups.
Secondary 4 and 5
For Secondary IV and V students, two options will be available to school service centres, based on their layout and the needs identified in their respective environments.
The first option is modelled on the one adopted for students in Secondary 1, 2 and 3: 100% attendance of all students and rearrangement of the timetable for elective courses and special projects according to the principle of closed class groups.
The second option consists of alternating with groups attending school at least every other day, always respecting the rules of physical distance in force. Online learning and homework would then complete the educational offer.
In order to be prepared for any eventuality, school service centres will have to have an emergency protocol in place before the fall school year begins. This should enable them to switch quickly to distance learning if the situation should require it; i.e., in the event of a second wave of virus transmission forcing a new total or partial confinement. This protocol should include mechanisms for the rapid distribution of tablets and laptops to students who need them, established processes for using digital platforms for further learning and communication, training for staff, students, and parents in their use, and accountability measures for student services. Even in the event of school closure, staff will need to continue their work to ensure that all students receive the necessary support to continue their education.
For its part, the government will also ensure that everything is in place for the school system in the event of a second wave. It should be remembered that free, accelerated training has already been set up for teachers and all school personnel, following an agreement with TÉLUQ, the public distance learning university that is part of the University of Québec. $150 million has also been made available to school service centres to equip schools with sufficient tablets and laptops in time for the next school year.
In addition, families and teachers will continue to be able to use the Open School web platform, launched on March 30. This initiative, designed to meet an urgent need following the closure of schools, has been very successful.
Roberge, visibly pleased to announce the reopening of Quebec educational institutions, said the following: “It is a strong message, a message of hope, which will have a major impact on the motivation, perseverance and, ultimately, the success of our students. I would like to thank our partners from the bottom of my heart for their exceptional collaboration over the past few weeks, which has enabled us to improve the plan presented today. Starting tomorrow, we’ll get back to work, all together, to ensure that the new school year is both extra special and safe.” [Local Journalism Initiative]