open letter education minister quebec

Back to school in Quebec: Open letter to Education Minister Jean-François Roberge

By Marwah Rizqy, MNA for Saint-Laurent and official opposition critic for education.

This is an open letter to Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge about the province’s back to school plan (or lack thereof) written by Marwah Rizqy, MNA for Saint-Laurent and official opposition critic for education, and translated from French by Jacques-Cartier MNA Gregory Kelly.

On June 2, Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge announced that students and staff would go “back to normal” for the 2021–2022 school year. Back to normal, Minister Roberge? Really?

Young people have accumulated significant learning delays, have in many cases left school entirely because they lacked motivation, and have learned more than they needed to know about stress and anxiety.

They have studied in classrooms where the level of air quality is still a mystery, spaces that are still not equipped with carbon monoxide detectors or air purifiers.

They have encountered teachers who are exhausted, burnt out, and thinking of leaving the classroom behind, as other colleagues have done because of the pandemic.

They have interacted with school administrators who have been abandoned by the government, and who lack motivation because they must enforce rules which are confusing and which change constantly.

They have dealt with support staff who are often forgotten, but who are essential to the task of keeping schools open.

That’s your idea of “back to normal,” Minister Roberge?  Really?

Have you done your homework?

While parents begin to purchase school supplies in preparation for the opening of schools, Minister Roberge, have you done your homework?

Now that we have Public Health’s authorization to move up second doses, have you asked Public Health to organize a vaccination blitz in high schools before they reopen?

Since elementary school children are the only ones not to be vaccinated, and Quebec is facing the threat of the Delta variant, have you ordered your department to conduct a second round of air quality tests in schools to reduce the risk of infection and spread?

Have you installed air purifiers in elementary school classrooms?

Are there enough computers and mobile devices in schools to resume online learning if schools have to close again?

Is your tutoring program ready for the start of the school year?

What about extra-curricular activities?  Will students be able to participate in them this year?  What rules will apply to them?

Minister Roberge, have you even started preparing for the return to the classroom? ■

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