Home Schooling

Finish of digital faculty for college students weak to COVID-19

The Ministry of Education is ending two years of virtual learning for hundreds of students vulnerable to infection with the COVID-19 virus. Quebec is counting on the end of the health emergency to justify the return to class of all elementary and secondary school students, even those with chronic illnesses or whose immune systems are weakened.

This decision was communicated last week to the school service centers by the Deputy Minister of Education, Alain Sans Cartier. The directive repeals a ministerial order from May 2022 which, among other things, ordered schools to teach students remotely whose “health condition or that of a person they live with puts them at risk of serious complications if they become infected with the virus. COVID-19”. Medical documentation was required to be eligible for virtual teaching.

The Ministry of Education believes it is in the best interest of the children to return to school, our sources claim. Students come to class not only to learn, but also to socialize. In some cases, the school is also a social safety net that can find children who are experiencing a difficult situation at home.

If I were the parent of a vulnerable child, I would be worried. I needed to be reassured.

This obligation to return to class remains unknown in the school network – the start of the school year will take place in the coming days – but it concerns the Federation of Parents’ Committees of Quebec (FCPQ), which is calling for clarification from the Ministry of Education.

“If I was a parent of a vulnerable child, I would be worried. I need to be reassured,” said Kevin Roy, president of the FCPQ. Parents are right to wonder why distance learning was appropriate for two years for children vulnerable to COVID-19, but class attendance is now becoming mandatory, he says.

Protective measures

Kevin Roy claims guidelines around virtual school “lack clarity”. It calls for a policy to regulate distance learning, taking into account the advantages and disadvantages for all students. He would have been relieved if public health had recommended an end to virtual teaching for students vulnerable to COVID-19.

When asked about this, the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MHSS) reported. Yes, I should that public health has not prepared an opinion specifically on the end of distance learning. Robert Maranda, a spokesman for the MSSS, directed us to a page of guidance for “people with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems, including children and their loved ones.”

These vulnerable people “need to ensure that they follow basic health instructions at all times; minimize contact; avoid public places; otherwise, wear a mask or face covering,” the MSSS says.

“Regardless of age, additional protective measures may be necessary for workers with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems. For example, promoting remote work from home or strictly applying specific preventive measures in certain workplaces if remote work is impossible,” adds the Ministry of Health.

Freed staff

Students must return to class, but school staff may still be excused from attending school for medical reasons certified by a doctor.

“School service centers must define the terms and conditions applicable to staff vulnerable to COVID-19 in accordance with the current recommendations made by the Direction générale de santé publique, the National Institute of Santé Publique du Québec (INSPQ) and the Standards Commission , Equality, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST),” said Brian St-Louis, spokesperson for the Department of Education.

The INSPQ describes the health conditions that make people vulnerable to infection with the COVID-19 virus (chronic kidney, cardiovascular, and respiratory disease; liver, kidney, heart, or lung transplants; cancer; and more).

“It is important to emphasize that this communication is intended as a reference tool to support physicians in assessing an individual’s vulnerability to SARS-CoV-2 and the additional protective measures recommended in the workplace. Therefore, the treating physician’s judgment regarding the patient’s vulnerability remains essential and should take precedence,” states INSPQ.

Another change compared to the last school year: the measure that provided for the closure of a class if 60% of the students in it are positive for COVID-19 is dropped. On the web, we await details of everything related to closing classes and monitoring the education of isolated students in case of infection.

Other criteria for the virtual

The Ministry of Education explains that virtual school remains possible for some students, but only as part of a pilot project that runs from September 2021 to June 2024. This type of distance learning is not aimed at students exempted for medical reasons, but rather to children “who do not fit into the usual model of the school.

According to recent news, 3,500 students have taken part in this project, which is part of the Legault government’s digital action plan. Parents must show that virtual school is the best solution for their children due to a range of circumstances: bullying, severe anxiety, behavioral or learning disorders, autism, giftedness, distance from major centers or participation in sports or arts training programs requiring regular absences from class.

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