Most kids 'don't get sick,' Quebec minister says -- but teachers say their health matters too
MONTREAL -- Quebec’s back-to-school experiment begins in just under three weeks, Quebec’s education minister made clear on Monday, but many teachers say they’re dreading being the test subjects.
“What I heard from him was 'We're going to start school—good luck,'” said Juliet Oppong-Nuako, a teacher at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Elementary School.
“I was dumbfounded when I heard students would not be required to wear masks in class,” said Brad Morley, a math teacher at St. John’s School.
Masks will only be required in common areas, and only for kids in Grade 5 and up.
But there’s still a 10-person limit to private gatherings in Quebec, Morley pointed out.
“Every day I'm going to be hosting a house party for 15 to 25 kids for 75 minutes,” he said.
Teachers say that Quebec authorities appear to only be looking at the student side of the equation.
“Kids... most of the time don't get sick, don't have COVID,” Minister Jean-Francois Roberge has said.
However, there have been cases of children dying from the virus. And they can carry to virus to others, according to Dr. Earl Rubin of the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
“You have to differentiate—do kids get infected, or do kids get sick?” he said.
Doctors are finding that “they are getting infected but they are not presenting to hospital, and they don’t get that sick.”
The English Montreal School Board says it had a real test run back in the spring when a handful of adult and vocational schools allowed some students to go back. It says it now feels ready.
“It went really, really well in terms of the PPE that we utilized,” said board spokesperson Mike Cohen.
“We didn’t have any incidents of any students getting COVID.”
Enforcing the equipment and the new directives will mostly be up to teachers, which they say adds to their stress.
“We will plan, we will be efficient... but that's on us to do,” said Oppong-Nuako.
Many are guessing that the experiment will be short-lived, in any case.
“I don't know how the schools are going to stay open longer than a month,” said Morley.