Dozens of Quebec doctors have some problems with Quebec's back-to-school plan. In an open letter to political and public health leaders that has been widely circulated in the media, the doctors and professors say they "were largely disappointed with the government's return to school plan disclosed to the public on August 10th." Calling the plan "inadequate," they outline a number of measures that they're asking the government to adopt.
The government's strategy, they say, "may put children and teachers at risk of contracting COVID19" and "could lead to outbreaks within their families and their communities."
"This could, ultimately, undo much of our efforts to control this epidemic that have been made collectively in the last six months," they write.
Their first suggestion is wider enforcement of social distancing for students.
Quebec is calling for isolated classes in which students aren't required to keep their distance from each other, but the doctors claim that this relaxation of regular public health guidelines "is contrary to current recommendations by many expert groups."
In addition to daily symptom screening and an "on-line learning option" for students, they're also calling for mandatory mask-wearing "in all indoor school areas."
Students are required to wear masks in all school common areas but can go mask-less in their classrooms.
"Face to face contact is important," Minister Roberge said at the announcement of the rule.
Masks are mandatory for everyone aged 10 and up in all other enclosed spaces in the province.
(2/8) Toutefois, certains ajustements sont nécessaires afin de mieux protéger la santé de nos élèves, des enseignan… https://t.co/ecHng6KvjK— Jean-F. Roberge (@Jean-F. Roberge) 1597086142.0
In its final point, the letter calls for a complete review of ventilation systems in Quebec's aging and "overpopulated" schools.
"School ventilation systems should be evaluated and updated, as required, within the shortest possible timeframe," it states.
"In the meantime, simple solutions to improve ventilation should be recommended (e.g. open windows, use of outdoor space and addition of temporary air filtration devices)."
Un retour en classe sécuritaire pour tous les élèves. Conférence de presse sur l’actualisation du plan pour la rent… https://t.co/oIKvAUJMFB— Jean-F. Roberge (@Jean-F. Roberge) 1597079186.0
"The current back-to-school plan in Quebec needs to better consider all the available scientific evidence to prevent outbreaks in schools, to avoid jeopardizing the safety of our children, teachers and parents, as well as, to prevent a resurgence of SARS-CoV2 in our community," the letter concludes.
"It needs to be promptly reviewed and revised to ensure a safer return to school for all."