AT press conference On Thursday, Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said parents could be asked to monitor classrooms, but as a “last resort”.
“It’s not like we’re asking parents to become teachers,” he said. “A parent can come and supervise a class.”
Nonetheless, the document suggests that educators prepare a list of contacts who can serve as approved teacher replacements, ranging from other teachers and non-teaching staff members to student teachers and parent volunteers. According to CTV News, Bill 21 will not apply to parent volunteers, meaning they could wear religious symbols in class.
A special ministerial decree created at the start of the pandemic “allows school personnel to be assigned where and when they are needed. It therefore allows great flexibility in the context of a health emergency,” the document states. He notes that some “supplementary services” – such as speech therapy and remedial teaching – may be suspended so that staff can teach or supervise groups of students instead.
One option, presented in the document, is to have a lone teacher lead remote homeschooling while an adult supervises and supports students who are in-person in a classroom.
Another possibility is for a teacher to take on two groups of students “with the help of another resource” and “move[s] from one room to another” so that the students, ideally, “remain in two separate rooms to avoid possible contagion”, indicates the document.
How have educators responded?
Unions representing school workers have published a joint statement saying they were “very concerned about the conditions under which the government plans to reopen schools”.
“With the new load shedding announced in education, it would be possible, for example, that a janitor be called upon to cease performing his duties to take care of a handicapped pupil in place of him. Or, with the abolition ratios, only one The daycare worker can be responsible for 50 or even 60 students. In short, it does not matter whether the staff are respected or the quality of student services. From now on, it seems that what matters is to remain open no matter what,” said Éric Pronovost, president of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire.
Josée Scalabrini, president of the Federation of Teachers’ Unions, said “one wonders if the school has not become a daycare center rather than a learning environment”.
In one Press release, the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (APEQ-QPAT) reiterated its request to the Legault government:
- “Making N95 masks accessible to all teachers
- Install mobile HEPA air filters or air exchangers in all classrooms without mechanical ventilation as soon as possible
- Provide sufficient rapid diagnostic tests to all school staff
- Review COVID-19 case management protocols for clarity, safety and consistency of application
- Quickly assess the situation in our schools and reconsider the decision to bring all students back to class.”
“In a context of staff shortages, this decision, far from valuing education employees, risks demotivating them and accelerating their departure. The onus is once again on the school staff,” said APEQ-APQ President Heidi Yetman. “It is a source of great concern.”
The cover image of this article was used for illustrative purposes only.
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