Press Statement on Proposed Reopening of Schools
The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) joins the other eight English school boards in Quebec to declare that despite government deadlines, its elementary schools will not reopen until student and staff safety can be assured.
In a press release issued today by the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA), representing the nine English school boards, several important assertions were made:
- “We acknowledge the need to reopen schools in a gradual and manageable way, ideally before the end of the current school year if conditions permit. It is our considered opinion that for the entire elementary school population of Quebec, reopening in two stages only a week apart, does not constitute a safe and measurable return to school for our staff and students.”
- “Our concern is with the practical and operational challenges in achieving this (school reopening) across the province by the prescribed deadlines, and its appropriateness on the Island of Montreal given the fact that this region is still very much an active COVID-19 “hot spot.”
- “As of April 30, there are still far too many unknowns that compromise the ability of school boards to safely and effectively reopen schools. Our assessment is that the implementation of these measures will vary significantly in different school boards and may not even be possible in some areas.”
- “Rather than inspiring confidence in the public, this hastily announced plan by the government has had the effect of significantly raising anxiety and stress levels among teachers and parents in particular, as well as the general population.”
The complete QESBA press release can be viewed at: https://www.qesba.qc.ca/en/news/item/government-of-quebec-must-readjust-dates-for-reopening-schools
The EMSB supports the position taken by the QESBA.
Moreover, the EMSB wants its parents, staff, students and community to be assured that the board’s first priority is the health and safety of our students and staff. As such, we will continue to work towards the reopening of our elementary schools; BUT will take the time needed to analyze our situation and to ensure proper planning. And no school will be reopened until we are absolutely certain that proper safety conditions are in place.
For next week, elementary teachers and staff are invited to work with their students from home. Your return to school date is tentatively scheduled for May 11. More information will follow from your Principals. High school teachers and staff are invited to work with their students from home until further notice. More information will follow from your Principals.
A Special Note:
It is important to highlight that the EMSB presently operates four emergency daycares for the children of workers in the healthcare, sanitation and security sectors. These daycares host fewer than 15 children per day in an entire school building. These circumstances provide safe working conditions; and thus should not be compared to the re-opening of an entire elementary school. The EMSB would like to extend a very special public thank you to the administrators and staff who worked in those emergency daycares over the past several weeks. Your dedication is much appreciated!