Minister Roberge steps back once again
“Pedagogical camps” will be optional
Earlier this week, Quebec announced that students with special needs would be invited to return to school for at least three weeks before the end of the school year to participate in what the provincial Ministry of Education calls a “pedagogical camp”. School board superintendents received general instructions in this regard in a letter dated June 1, indicating that the camps were to be operational by the week of June 8.
This new measure was to apply to all teenagers in the province who have learning disabilities, since high schools have not reopened. The letter stated that these “learning camps” could have up to 10 students per class, and that children’s participation would be voluntary. There would be no formal assessment of learning and these services could be maintained during the summer period by organizations that wished to do so. In addition, school boards would be responsible for determining the students to whom this service would be offered.
This announcement came as a surprise to the education network. The Fédération québécoise des directions d’établissement d’enseignement asked Quebec to “reconsider this option,” and some school principals even opposed it, deeming the organizational deadlines unrealistic for an initiative that came too late, at the end of the school year.
“This has been typical of this government since the day the schools closed – very last minute, very improvised,” said Heidi Yetman, president of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers. “We’re always running around with every new directive the ministry throws at us and we don’t have time to sit down and plan properly for the fall return to class,” she lamented.
Learning camps will be optional
The minister clarified his intentions on Wednesday, announcing that schools are no longer obliged to organize this return to class for students with learning disabilities three weeks before the end of the school year, as Quebec said Monday.
This is now a “new option” that schools will be able to put in place if they have the opportunity and if they deem it necessary, the minister said. He explained that it is now up to each school board to decide whether or not to organize such camps.
In some schools, staff are no longer available in sufficient numbers to offer these educational camps, Roberge acknowledged today.
“I’m told that there are places where it might be possible. But there are other places, especially in the cold zone, where 60 per cent of the students have returned to class. We have mobilized all the elementary teachers and a good portion of the secondary teachers,” said the Minister of Education. “Some school boards no longer have any leeway to offer these educational camps.
He went on to say that “forcing this would mean abandoning students who have quality distance education to organize the learning camp. I don’t want to impose that,” the Minister said.
Summer school will be able to take place
In addition, the Minister of Education confirmed Wednesday that high school students will be able to return to school this summer to take remedial courses. The first summer courses will be offered as early as the beginning of July, even in hot zones. Students will have to respect the two-metre rule in groups of a maximum of 15 students.
“I am very pleased to have obtained this authorization from Public Health,” said Roberge.
He is pleased that students who were failing in the first two stages will be able to recover through summer school in the classroom. “There are young people who are going to graduate because of these courses,” he said.
The minister says he is confident that the school system can accommodate the same number of students as in previous years, despite the health measures. “I would not want to deprive students who are failing and who want to get back on track,” he said. [ Local Journalism Initiative ]