Doctors pen letter to Quebec government criticizing back to school plan

Aug 25 2020, 9:13 am

Over 125 health care professionals in Quebec have signed an open letter to the provincial government, urging them to re-think its back-to-school plan.

The letter is addressed to Premier François Legault, Health Minister Christian Dubé and Education Minister Jean-François Roberge and says the province’s current back-to-school plan is “inadequate” and needs to be improved.

The letter, signed by 130 doctors, scientists, and researchers in Quebec, says the plan puts children and teachers at risk of contracting COVID-19 and can “ultimately undo much of our efforts to control this epidemic that have been made collectively in the last six months.”

It recommends that the Quebec government follow the lead of Denmark and Norway’s classrooms by reducing class sizes to 12 to 15 children and asks the government to make face masks mandatory in classrooms as well, “where students spend most of their day in close proximity to their peers.”

Besides enforcing mandatory daily symptom screening and improving school’s air ventilation, the letter says the government should consider expanding the online option for all Quebec students. “Each family should have the right to determine based on their own specific set of circumstances whether their child should attend school in person this fall.”

The letter concludes that if Quebec follows the lead of the Netherlands, Germany, and South Korea, students can “return to school safely with the appropriate plans in place.” However, the letter states that some countries (citing Israel) can lead to major outbreaks and trigger a “massive wave of infections in the community.”

“Since it is impossible to accurately predict the impact of school reopening in Quebec, a careful and prudent approach to school reopening is strongly recommended,” concluded the letter.

“The current back-to-school plan in Quebec needs to better consider all the available scientific evidence to prevent outbreaks in schools, to avoid jeopardizing the safety of our children, teachers and parents, as well as, to prevent a resurgence of SARS-CoV2 in our community.”

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