Quebec unions concerned about safety in back-to-school plan
MONTREAL -- Unions representing Quebec school workers say the Quebec government's Jan. 6 announcements on classroom safety measures as the COVID-19 Omicron variant spreads are not reassuring and are calling for a safe environment for the back-to-school period.
The Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), its four school sector federations, and the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) are telling Health Minister Christian Dubé and Education Minister Jean-François Roberge that staff already on the job in classrooms must be better protected now as several COVID-19 outbreaks are being monitored.
The unions say they're not impressed that after 22 months of the pandemic, many uncertainties remain regarding ventilation in the facilities.
CSQ president Éric Gingras said it's outrageous that the fact that Roberge is still announcing the upcoming installation of CO2 readers and telling people to open windows at schools when, in his opinion, the installation of air filtration systems and portable units in classrooms and areas where the air quality is deficient should be done as a matter of urgency.
The unions are also calling for N95 masks to be made available to education staff who request them, for rapid testing to be provided to all staff in the school system, and for PCR testing to be made available immediately to staff already on the job.
The Quebec government is also being urged to ensure it has enough staff to open classes and schools.
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Jan. 11, 2022.