English school boards of Quebec say proposal to re-open school in May is “hasty”

By Avleen K Mokha

Empty classroom.
Photo: Feliphe Schiarolli / Unsplash

The association for English schools in Quebec is pushing back against the province’s proposal to re-open schools before the end of this month.

Monday this week, Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge detailed Quebec’s plan to gradually re-open schools. Key dates from his briefing are:

  • By May 11, elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal region will be opened.
  • By May 19, elementary schools and daycares in Montreal region & Laval will be opened.
  • High schools, CEGEPs, universities will not open till at least the end of August.

Roberge said parents are not required to send their children to school.

Today, Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) submitted their collective position to the province’s Minister of Education. QESBA has nine school boards which believe that there are too many unknowns to safely re-open schools.

While no English school board will reopen any of its schools and centres earlier than the dates proposed by the Government of Quebec, English School Boards will independently decide if and when their schools and centres may reopen.

“As of April 30th, there are still far too many unknowns that compromise the ability of school boards to safely and effectively reopen schools,” said QESBA President Dan Lamoureux, adding that the implementation of safety measures may not even be possible in some areas. “The nine English school boards maintain that their priority is and always has been the health and safety of our students, staff and their families.”

“We are also convinced that the international health considerations cannot be met in many schools by the deadlines the government is imposing.”

QESBA is a big stakeholder in Quebec’s public education system. The organization represents 100,000 students in 340 elementary, high schools, and adult and vocational centres across Quebec. “It remains our public responsibility to make the right decisions for our communities,” Lamoureux said.

“The nine English School Boards in Quebec wish to respectfully remind the Government of Quebec and the Minister of Education that we continue to assert our legal and constitutional authority to control and manage our minority language school system,” the QESBA statement read.

“Rather than inspiring confidence in the public, this hastily announced plan by the government has had the effect of significantly raising anxiety and stress levels among teachers and parents in particular, as well as the general population. This is clearly evidenced by a petition to delay school reopening until September, already signed by over a quarter of a million citizens.”