Adam Gordon, chairman of the SWLSB Parent’s committee

Dimitris Ilias

It was the biggest school related question in all the parent’s minds during isolation: What will school look like in September? Many scenarios were considered and endless discussions in social media peppered with a lot of angst ruled the electronic fora.

Minister says all go back
On June 16th Education Minister Jean-François Roberge announced that the government’s plan to reopen schools was approved by public health officials given the decline in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Roberge said he’s heard from pediatric specialists who say that while the virus is dangerous, not going to school is dangerous, too — for the success rate and for children’s mental health.
Students in preschool up to Grade 9 will be back at their schools and attendance is mandatory. Classes will respect the regular, pre-pandemic ratios, but there will be subgroups of up to six students who will not have to respect the usual two-metre physical-distancing rule.
For students in Secondary IV and V there are 2 options:
Option 1: If it is possible to maintain closed groups of students who stay in their respective classrooms:
100% of students will be returning to class with a standard number of students per group. Staff will move between rooms to teach the various subjects
Option 2: Students will attend school one day out of two. They would have online classes and take-home work to do on the days they aren’t physically at school.

Parents reactions
NSN reached out to Adam Gordon, chairman of the SWLSB Parent’s committee to get a feel of the impact of the Ministry’s announcement on the SWLSB community. “I think that our government went ahead and made announcements early, it is inspiring to see that at least they are trying to communicate early and help set us up for the expectations” said Gordon.
Reactions from the parents are mixed however. “Certainly, the lack of the possibility of an optional return to the classroom is definitely a sticking point” according to Gordon who added that a lot of parents suffer from different medical conditions. They are fearful that their kids might bring the virus home and infect them. This was a choice given to all the parents in May and has been taken away. This kind of choice still exists in Ontario where parents have the option not to send their kids back to school.

Secondary 4 and 5
Another mystery point according to Adam Gordon is the fact that the Sec 4s and 5s are treated differently than the rest of the students. “Knowing that these are such pivotal years in their education, doing ministry examinations, I think there are some who would rather see them spending more time in the classroom, allowing them to complete their education and be ready for those exams”

Still lots to be done
There is no new communication beyond what the government has already stated and a lot of parents are wondering how the bubble of 6 kids-system will work outside the classroom. “How will they handle things like lunch? Will they be able to enforce that kind of social distancing or will it become a free for all?” said Gordon. ECAs (Extra Curricular Activities) are also a significant aspect of Quebec education that has not been addressed. “Not every child is destined to be a lawyer or a doctor or even go to College. In the year 2020 there is zero shame to going to the trades. We need to provide the kids other outlets rather than focus only on the core competencies. For some of them drama, dance, art, music etc are the reasons they come to class and don’t skip or pretend to be sick or invent reasons to not be there” said Adam Gordon.