Quebec elementary schools are reopening across the province today after returning from the extended holiday break, in an attempt to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
Students in elementary schools are now required to wear masks in hallways, common areas, and on buses. Kids in Grade 5 and 6 are now mandated to wear a mask inside their classrooms as well.
The announcements were made on Friday by Education Minister Jean-François Roberge as the latest wave of protocols put in place to stem the rising numbers of infections across Quebec.
High school students will continue remote learning for one more week and are scheduled to return to in-person classes on January 18.
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According to Quebec’s Réseau scolaire public et privé, since the start of the second wave, nearly 22,000 students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
On Friday, Santé Quebec reported the province’s highest single-day COVID-19 increase with 3,127 new cases.
C’est aujourd’hui que débute le retour en classe des élèves du primaire avec des mesures sanitaires renforcées.
Merci aux enseignants et au personnel dans les écoles qui se donnent corps et âme pour aider nos enfants à réussir malgré la pandémie. pic.twitter.com/21wrGotkbG
— François Legault (@francoislegault) January 11, 2021
The education minister says Quebec has always “prioritized student attendance in the classroom,” differing from other provinces in Canada that favour remote learning.
Roberge says all schools in Quebec now have the proper equipment in place to ensure all students across the province have access to a computer device that will let students work “from a distance.”
The education minister said he understands parents’ concerns about the reopening of schools but stressed that for “most students, the best place to be is in school.”
He also said that air quality tests have been carried out in 3,300 schools across the province and that the ventilation results were “quite encouraging.” Roberge said only 3% of schools were “problematic” and that “alternative measures” to solve air quality are being put into place for the rest of the 2021 school year.