One month after the start of the school year, the number of closed classes in Quebec now exceeds a thousand, a milestone that school principals did not expect to see crossed so quickly.
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“It’s starting to be worrisome. That’s really a lot of closed classes across Quebec, ”said Nicolas Prévost, president of the Quebec Federation of Educational Institution Managers.
In its new report released yesterday, the government estimated at 1,016 the number of classes placed in quarantine, in particular to prevent a positive student from infecting others in his group.
More than 770 schools had at least one active Covid-19 case among its students or staff out of the province’s 2,740.
In the field, the directors are surprised to see the extent of the repercussions of Covid-19 in the school environment. “It really exceeds what we had planned.”
Mr. Prévost is also beginning to observe a bottleneck in public health surveys in schools.
“There were regions where the results [des dépistages] could be given very quickly, within 24 hours. There is a minimum of 48 hours. They also do not provide, ”he observes.
Fortunately, when a class switches to virtual mode, things generally go well. But the more the number of classes placed in isolation grows, the more worries also grow, especially about the possibility of providing devices to all young people who do not have them at home.
“This pace should not accelerate,” he warns. “There are places where we are 100% ready [si l’école au complet devait fermer], but this is not the case throughout Quebec, ”says Mr. Prévost.
For example, forty families did not have an internet connection last week, when Gérald-Fillion high school in Longueuil had to close its doors due to a high number of positive cases.
A lot or a little?
Moreover, the number of schools where all classes are closed is not part of the ministry’s daily report. Adding it to the data disseminated “would not do any harm”, believes epidemiologist Nimâ Machouf.
But 1000 closed classes, is it a lot or a little? Hard to say, since we do not know the total number of groups in the establishments of the province.
At the Federation of School Service Centers, it is readily estimated that there are between 45,000 and 50,000, which would mean that around 2% of groups are currently isolated.
“It’s still manageable,” says spokesperson Caroline Lemieux. Especially since there were very few outbreaks between school walls. A class can be closed preventively when there is only one positive case. “And often it stops there.”
In addition, it was yesterday the first day when high school students had to wear face coverings at all times at school, a new measure which “is managed quite well”, remarks Nicolas Prévost.
But for teachers, the daily upheavals caused by the pandemic, such as having to switch to virtual mode, cause “shortness of breath”, notes Josée Scalabrini, president of the Federation of Education Unions.
“Teaching in class or remotely is not the same preparation, the same classroom management, the same follow-up,” she illustrates.
Since Tuesday, The newspaper tries to find out the number of schools closed due to Covid-19 and the total number of classes in establishments in Quebec. Late Thursday evening, the Ministry of Education still had not responded.