MONTREAL -- Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said that in deciding whether or not to send students back to school this month, in person, it's not that the province believed there is no risk from COVID-19 -- authorities just judged other risks were greater, at least when it came to the kids themselves. 

"We did ask our experts from [public health] if the risk is higher at school or at home," said Minister Jean-François Roberge in an interview with CTV News.

"When students are at home they don't learn as much, of course, and we have other problems such as mental health," he said. And "some kids get mistreated at home -- it's a fact."

The province decided that on balance, children would be better off in the classroom.

Roberge acknowledged that schools have led to some of the province's outbreaks, putting people other than the kids at health risk. But he said the fall seemed to show it was still worth it.

"We have 1.5 million [people] in our school system, so it's impossible to keep our schools open... with 1.5 million people, and [for] nobody to get infected, of course," he said.

However, "during the fall, 98 per cent of our classes stayed open," he said. "So it's a good measure and it says that we were right to keep our schools open."

Watch the full interview with Minister Roberge in the video above.