Teachers in French system join English counterparts over back-to-school concerns
MONTREAL -- A day after teachers protested outside the Montreal office of the provincial education ministry, more people representing teachers in the French-language school system spoke up today.
Unions representing teachers and support staff in the French school boards, who haven’t generally been as vocal as their English-speaking counterparts on the back-to-school plans, said they have their own concerns.
“We're expecting a lot of work to be done before we actually start doing the one-two-threes and the a-b-c's,” said Anne Dionne, a vice president at the CSQ union.
Teachers in the French system mentioned major things on their minds.
One is kids’ increased needs after six months out of school. Teachers worry that their students will be feeling more anxiety, and that children with special needs may have also fallen through the cracks in various ways.
Relatedly, they’re concerned about how teachers will manage all these extra demands.
“We need time to be able to have the teachers and the support staff and the professionals to get together and be able to put up a plan and be able to assess those students,” said Dionne.
This is on top of their worry about potential outbreaks of COVID-19, the unions said.
The teachers’ representatives said they want back-to-school to be delayed and want extra funding in the budget to hire extra help at schools, which are already short-staffed.
On Thursday last week, Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge announced an extra $20 million in funding to help students get up to speed on class work after all the time away. The money is meant to cover exactly that—additional tutors and other helpers, or to hire current part-time workers at full-time hours.
But it’s only a drop in the bucket, said Dionne.
“If you calculate it according to all the schools, it’s barely $6,500 dollars per school,” she said.
“This not that much money with all the problems that we have.”
The unions said that whether or not these problems are dealt with now, they will only become more obvious over the course of the next few months.