Quebec masks schools

Quebec makes masks mandatory for students ahead of schools reopening

…but not in the classroom, and not for kids under 10.

In a press conference this afternoon, Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge announced new guidelines for the province’s schools to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, including the mandatory use of masks. Wearing masks or other adequate face coverings will be mandatory for students from Grade 5 and up to the end of high school, as well as in CEGEPs and universities. Quebec students may remove their masks inside schools when they’re seated at their desks in classrooms, or while seated for eating. Parents who enter schools must also wear masks.

Physical distancing of one metre between students is being recommended, along with staggered schedules. Children will be kept within their class groups, and will not be allowed to mingle in crowded common areas. The mini-bubble approach adopted in elementary schools when they reopened in the province in June is not being applied.

As detailed in a La Presse report this morning, the guidelines being provided to schools specifies that if a child tests positive for COVID-19, all parents and school staff will be notified by the school. People considered “at moderate or high risk” will be removed from the contaminated environment and tested. The sick child will have to be isolated at home, with distance learning support to be provided by their school.

If there are multiple cases of COVID-19 in one class or if an outbreak affects several classes, public health authorities, in conjunction with school administration, could decide to close a class or even the entire school depending on the situation.

In all cases, public health authorities will provide detailed instructions to the school, which will in turn be responsible for informing all parents and staff.

If a student exhibits symptoms in class — and the list of symptoms ranges from the well-known COVID-19 symptoms to diarrhea and vomitting — they will be isolated and supervised by one staff member until a parent picks them up. The room will then be ventilated and disinfected.

If a child shows symptoms at home, parents should contact 1-877-644-4545 as soon as possible. The child will need to remain isolated at home until they receive public health instructions. ■

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