Deemed inapplicable on Thursday, the half-class scenario to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at school now appears to be a plausible avenue in the eyes of Minister Jean-François Roberge.
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“I am not closed to that at all,” the Minister of Education told LCN on Friday.
However, he points out that this option poses technical challenges. “You have to equip yourself with equipment, you have to get it, you have to install it, so I think we are moving towards more technopedagogy, but we have to allow ourselves the time to do things well”, he insisted.
For several weeks, students of 3e, 4e and 5e secondary school only go to school every other day. They take their classes at home the rest of the time. The government has opted to keep the groups intact, which means that the thirty or so students in a class get together every other day.
But this is not what the World Health Organization recommends, or even the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ), which instead recommended that the authorities reduce the groups by half. About fifteen students could be in class while the other fifteen follow the same distance course.
“If we have a limited number of individuals together, if there is transmission, it will affect a limited number of individuals”, explains Dr Gaston De Serres, doctor-epidemiologist at the INSPQ.
He specifies that the half-classes must however always remain the same, according to the principle of bubble-classes.
The Dr De Serres points out that there is currently no scientific data to support it, “but in principle, if there is a student who is ill and he meets fourteen other people, if we had a group of thirty divided in two, of course, its capacity to infect is more limited than if we had thirty people ”.
According to the Dre Caroline Quach-Thanh, pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at CHU Sainte-Justine, the path favored so far by the Legault government is not optimal for reducing contamination. “To have thirty students in a class every other day, that does not change much to the risk of transmission in class,” she analyzes.
Of course, alternating courses have made it possible to reduce the number of children in schools and school buses, but the initial objective of the INSPQ’s recommendation has not been met.