Québec Premier François Legault appeared cautiously optimistic during a press conference on Tuesday, where he suggested the province was so far resisting the spread of variants and subsequently a third wave. He explained that as “the situation in the coming weeks will be decisive,” the majority of public health measures will remain in place for the time being.
Secondary students in Grades 9, 10 and 11 in red zones will however begin attending in-person classes on a full-time basis as of Monday. Both Legault and Horacio Arruda, the director of the institut national de santé publique du Québec, acknowledged that a return to in-person classes posed a certain risk, but the risks associated with keeping young people at home were far greater. “There are going to be outbreaks, but we are going to control them,” insisted Arruda, who said distance learning was proving to be difficult for some students at risk of failing, and that youth mental health was a major concern.
The announcement caught many in the education community completely off guard. “We were taken aback,” said Rob Buttars, the director general for the New Frontiers School Board. “It is very short-sighted and short notice,” he added, noting he found out about the change a mere 15 minutes before the press conference, and that the information did not come from the Ministry of Education.
Buttars suggested that while he understands there is pressure from parents to have students in school, and that the best thing for students is to be back in class full-time, the government has left schools with very little time to put plans in place that maintain the safety of students, teachers, and staff. “It is a big change, and we will have to be as flexible as possible,” he said.
“There is no prize to get to the finish line with this one,” he commented, noting that students in orange zones only returned to full-time in person classes this past Monday. “I’m disappointed at the speed of the announcement,” he added, saying they are already walking on eggshells. “It was a disrespectful announcement.”
Transport for vaccination appointments
Legault announced during the press conference that by the end of the day, over 1 million Quebecers will have been vaccinated. In the Montérégie, over 137,660 people have received a first dose of a vaccine. Those aged 65 and older may book an appointment to be vaccinated locally at the Ormstown Recreation Centre.
S.A.B.E.C., which offers medical transportation services to residents of the Haut-Saint-Laurent, announced on Tuesday that it would be partnering with the Montérégie-West Integrated Health and Social Services Centre (CISSSMO) to provide free transportation to vaccination appointments for its users. Those in need of transportation may contact S.A.B.E.C. for more information by telephone at: 450 264-1131, or by email at: email@example.com.