Friday , January 15 2021

Deadlines of several weeks for air quality tests in classrooms

Several weeks could pass before air quality tests are carried out in all classrooms in the province, as demanded by Quebec, which worries teachers’ unions who are calling for changes to better reflect their reality .

At the Première-Seigneuries service center in Quebec, it is expected that six to eight weeks will be needed to carry out tests in all classes, according to the directives that will be sent to the school network, indicates its general secretary, Martine Chouinard.

Several other service centers have indicated to the Newspaper that they were waiting to learn more before they could decide on the duration of the operation.

It was not possible to obtain further details on this subject from the Ministry of Education on Monday. “Specific directives will be sent out shortly,” said spokesperson Bryan St-Louis.

The amounts currently available allow service centers to purchase the devices required to perform the tests, he said.

In December, Quebec asked school service centers to carry out air quality tests in four classrooms located in 330 schools, which represents about 10% of establishments in the province. The operation took place over two weeks.

This sampling has shown that the air quality is satisfactory in the vast majority of the classes tested, according to the report released on Friday. In 3% of cases, however, corrections will have to be made.

Air quality tests must now be carried out in all classrooms in Quebec, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge announced on Friday.

However, teachers’ unions are worried about the delays associated with such an operation. “It will take some time, as the situation requires us to act very quickly,” says Catherine Beauvais-St-Pierre, president of the Alliance des professeures et professors de Montréal.

Methodology to review?

Same story from the president of the Quebec Region Teaching Union (SERQ), Daniel Gauthier, who affirms that the methodology used during the tests carried out in December does not at all reflect the reality of teachers in the classroom .

The first measurement of carbon dioxide concentration was taken before the start of the course, the second, in the middle of a course, while the third measurement was taken before the end of a course, after a period of opening of the course. 20-minute windows, which caused the observed measurements to drop.

“It doesn’t happen in reality that all the windows are open for 20 minutes. When teachers open the windows during lessons, it’s often for a few minutes, one or a few windows at a time, otherwise it becomes too cold for the students, ”says Gauthier.

The president of the Quebec Federation of Educational Institutions, Nicolas Prévost, also concedes that this way of doing things “is not very realistic”.

At the Ministry of Education, it is stated that schools must open windows and doors “if possible” 30 minutes before and after lessons. Between class periods, windows should be open for a maximum of about 5 minutes.

In the school network, the instructions vary from one service center to another. In the First Seigneuries, teachers are asked to open the windows twice a day, for 10 to 15 minutes during breaks, recess or lunch.

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