MONTREAL -- L'Association des pediatres du Quebec (APQ) says that it is “very saddened” by the decision to cancel the return to class in Greater Montreal and hopes for rapid commitments to limit the damage to children's development.

In a letter sent to Premier François Legault, the ministries of health and education and the Mayor of Montreal, the pediatric association said, “the delay in certain developmental milestones will be at least 6 to 9 months.”

“Beyond public health, experts such as teachers, psychologists and occupational therapists, should be consulted to think about solutions such as free day camps, a form of summer schooling, the revival of adapted team sports and a reopening of municipal libraries, youth centres, public swimming pools,” the association said.

While in Montreal on Thursday, Legault announced that elementary schools would not reopen before the fall in the metropolitan area. A certain period will be dedicated to catching up in September, he said, while promising to improve school materials sent to parents by then so that children can continue their learning at home.

Since the deconfinement of certain sports as of Wednesday will be limited to those which can be practiced without contact, young Montrealers also are being refused "the hope of playing ball with their friends,” deplored the APQ.

As for children with special needs, “the support services usually offered by the school environment (psychoeducation, speech-language pathology, orthopedagogy) should continue and intensify for some,” argued the APQ.

The premier has not ruled out the possibility that some special schools will reopen sooner, and asked teachers to pay “special attention” to children with learning disabilities.

The APQ also asked to loosen the screws elsewhere in Quebec, for the young ones who have already returned to school, but whose social life remains on the ice.

“It is imperative to plan partial solutions, or even to concretize them now. And by then, let's trust them, remind them to wash their hands and let them play with a friend in the alley,” urged the association.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2020.