Court case over parents' right to choose online learning in Quebec begins
MONTREAL -- A day after the province's high school students returned to class, the Quebec government faced off against a group of parents over the right to choose remote learning.
The parents argued in court that their kids should be able to take online classes, saying they are not re-assured by the sanitary measures available in schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We never advocated school closures, that's very bad for many, many people. Many families need schools to remain open. But if you offer a dual option, you're thinning out the number of kids (in classes,” said plaintiff Sarah Gibson.
Parents in Quebec, unlike in Ontario, cannot choose to keep their children at home to learn remotely during the pandemic. Only those with valid medical exemptions may be excused from in-person classes.
The parents hired constitutional lawyer Julius Grey last fall.
“Anyone who has received a medical exemption can tell you that it really works well for some kids to be at home and not well for others,” said Gibson. “That's why we need a choice.”
The plaintiffs called several healthcare experts to the stand on Tuesday. The government's lawyers also called their own experts, who argued that the risk of transmission in schools was minimal.
Assistant deputy education minister Anne-Marie Lepage testified that children will face dire consequences of they're not in a proper teaching environment, saying they will miss out on social interactions and attention from their teachers.
The case is expected to last another week and will mostly include testimony from scientific experts.