BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
Advice Regarding the Reopening of Schools Come September of 2020: But At What Risk to the Students and their Teachers? by Brian Rock
With only three weeks left for the final decisions from Education Minister Jean-François -Roberge regarding the reopening of schools in September, it is essential that changes occur in the approach employed in the decision-making process of the Minister and the officials in his Ministry of Education of Québec.
As Mr. Minister makes several of the most important decisions of his ministerial career, it is so important that he start to consult and take into consideration the advice from his school board administrators, principals, vice-principals, head teachers, teachers, YES, and especially parents.
We in the Outaouais have been blessed with being inhabitants of one of the regions in the province that has remained the coolest when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, caution must still remain a priority when making the decisions affecting our students and their teachers as a second wave is being predicted by the health care professional experts.
No one will challenge the fact that day care centres, pre-school, elementary, and secondary schools must reopen come September. However, the methods of doing so and the imposition of regulations forcing parents, school administrators, and teachers to follow procedures that they do not agree with must be avoided at all costs.
It has become clear that the younger population in the 15 to 35 age group is at much greater risk from COVID-19 than government officials first announced. This has led to a much more cavalier attitude on the part of the younger population when it comes to social distancing, wearing of masks, hand-washing, as well as being present in bars and AT PARTIES. We hear about instances through the social media about COVID-19 parties when all attendees put ten or twenty dollars in a jackpot that is then awarded to the first attendee that tests positive for COVID-19. How Disturbing Is That!
So what must Mr. Minister do. It is very obvious that many parents must return to work in their places of business. Therefore, the day care centres, pre-school, elementary, and secondary schools must reopen. However, the parents must be allowed to have three options to choose from: their children may attend school physically, remain at home to be enrolled in the distance education option, or be home schooled following the regulations of the Ministry of Education of Québec.
If pre-registration of students in one of the above three options is required ten days before the scheduled reopening of the schools, the regulations regarding social distancing could be applied in the school buildings now available . This would allow the school administrators and their school teams to implement the schedules required to accommodate the students registered to attend physically, assign the teaching personnel to classrooms in the school buildings, and to teaching assignments employing distance education.
Mr. Minister, I wish for you the Wisdom of Solomon in the next few weeks as you formulate your recommendations regarding September. I sincerely recommend strongly that you consult as widely as possibly – including with your Cabinet and Caucus confrères, the Committee on Culture and Education Members of the National Assembly, the Opposition Parties’ critics of education, the teacher unions, the associations of school administrators, the unions of support staff and professional employees, the associations of parents, and your own Ministry officials. We all are anxiously awaiting your recommendations. Please do not disappoint us!