The province's English school boards announced that they will determine their own reopening dates following the government's plan to reopen Quebec elementary schools starting on May 11 outside of Montreal. Though school attendance is not mandatory, the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) contends that there remains a "significant debate" on the health and safety risks of deconfinement. "There are still far too many unknowns that compromise the ability of school boards to safely and effectively reopen schools," said the QESBA in a statement to Education Minister Jean-François Roberge.
Since the government's announcement on April 27, teachers' unions across the province have raised concerns about the decision and said that public health officials still have a lot of questions to answer.
The QESBA also contends that the government's decision has "significantly [raised] the anxiety and stress levels among teachers and parents."
"To make such a significant announcement without sharing the required data, research, and analysis has had the effect of transferring the risks and fallout of a weakly developed plan from the Minister of Education to the administrators of schools and school boards without their essential input to its design."
In response, the QESBA says the province's nine English school boards will decide on their own opening dates "once they determine that all the conditions required can be met in each instance."
They vow, however, not to reopen before the dates set by the government.
The English Montreal School Board supports the QESBA's decision, stating that "no school will be reopened until ... proper safety conditions are in place."
At the announcement of the reopening of elementary schools in the province, Premier Legault said officials were proceeding with the utmost caution and are prepared to "readjust" as the situation develops.
He also said it was in the best interest of children to resume classes before the summer break.
Notice to the Government on Resumption of In-School Educational Services in the Schools and Centres of Québec's Eng… https://t.co/U5v4rgSxkp— QESBA (@QESBA) 1588354438.0
The risk for young people, he argued, is "limited."
Stability in hospitals also enabled the move. "So, if ever there were children or teachers who became ill, well, we have all the capacity and the staff available to take care of them."
On rouvre les écoles et les services de garde pour des raisons sociales et parce que la situation est sous contrôle… https://t.co/BVMrxWupVM— François Legault (@François Legault) 1588020436.0
As of May 1, Quebec remains the province that has reported the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada.
For now, the government will still reopen schools starting on May 11 in the regions and on May 19 in the Montreal metropolitan area.
Public health officials haven't ruled out the option of scaling back the deconfinement measures if health and safety are at risk.
Stay tuned for more news.
This article's cover image is used for illustrative purposes only.