On August 10, the Québec government unveiled its plan for students to return to school in classrooms this September.  Québec has already had experience with the challenges of public education and pandemic rules because many students across the province returned to classrooms in May to finish the school year.

In a letter to parents, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge explained the general rules and practices that will be in place when classes resume.  All classes in primary schools, and at the Secondary I, II, and III grade levels will be in class full-time with regular pupil-teacher ratios in place.  For Secondary IV and V students who cannot attend full-time due to logistical or health restrictions, some schools may allow attendance every second day with online distance learning on the days when students do not attend school in person.

Physical distancing will not be required between students in the same class group.  However, students must remain two metres away from their teachers and other school staff and one metre away from students in another group.  Roberge stated that individual schools will be contacting parents to inform them of any other local procedures.

Due to the plan to keep students in the same class group always, the “bubbles” of five or six students that existed in the spring are being discontinued.  Face coverings and masks will not be required for students from preschool to grade four but will be required for grades five and beyond unless a student cannot wear a mask for medical reasons.

Roberge assured parents that if there is indeed a serious second wave of COVID-19, provisions will be made to shift to distance learning again if students are unable to attend school in person.  To respond quickly to any outbreaks, the education ministry has created a testing and notification protocol that will be used if a student tests positive for COVID-19.  Further information is available at Québec.ca/back-to-school .

In Québec, nearly all of the return-to-school rules and procedures have been coordinated by the Ministry of Education, unlike in Ontario where the province has set guidelines but left much of the decision making to individual school boards.  In Québec, the School Service Centres and school boards are responsible for implementing the provincial rules.

For information from the English-language Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board, which serves the MRC d’Argenteuil, go to: https://www.swlauriersb.qc.ca/ .

Information from the French-language Centre de service scolaire de la Rivière-du-nord, which also serves the MRC d’Argenteuil, go to: https://www2.csrdn.qc.ca/ .