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Prepare for a demanding start to school

For the past few days, we have felt how much Quebec insists on seeing its children in school. From paediatricians to parents, school attendance is described as crucial from both a social and educational point of view.

Basically, there was never any real uncertainty. The government had, from the end of December, set this return to class on January 17. Despite everything, many of them have been insisting in recent days not to postpone this moment.

This week, testimonials from overwhelmed parents certainly helped to increase the pressure. Distance learning, we have experienced it. And we also understood the limits. Behind all these parents who have cried their dismay on social networks, there are all those who are even more destitute and who do not share anything.

The government in place was not so much to convince on the issue of schools. François Legault likes to repeat that schools are the last thing that can be closed and the first that must be reopened.

Cases, cases…

Despite the fairly broad consensus in favor of a return to school, this return to school will not be easy. Given Omicron’s extreme contagiousness, I fear she will give schools the toughest weeks in two years.

Cases, there will be one and another. Classes will no longer be closed as automatically as before, but there will still be a need to close certain classes due to major outbreaks.

Our schools have experienced this kind of disruption before with strains of COVID-19 far less contagious than Omicron. The past few weeks have taught us that when this variant enters a room, it spreads effectively.

And the teachers?

Teachers are among those who worry and we understand that. We accept that the COVID will circulate a little more in the classes. They are in front of the class. Even with protective measures and even recognizing like everyone else the importance of young people being in school, they experience a certain understandable apprehension.

When too many teachers find themselves in isolation, there is also a fear of running out of staff. This is one of the fears of school principals. The government then thinks of calling on volunteers to temporarily compensate. Big challenge!

Will the latest government announcements be enough to ensure a so-called “safe” return to class? Rapid tests are coming, but unfortunately a little late. N95 masks will be offered to teachers who need them. Should we offer it to everyone, to reassure?

As for the breakdown of classes, there is a lot of work done contrary to what is often conveyed, but the government has lost control of the message on this subject, which has become a source of concern.

The next two or three weeks are likely to be sporty in schools. If we are truly a society that cares deeply about education, we will have a solid opportunity to prove it.