Reopening of schools – Last-minute strategies create insecurity, says the CSQ

MONTRÉAL, Jan. 13, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ – The Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) and its federations in the school sector, i.e., the Fédération des syndicats de l’enseignement (FSE-CSQ), the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ), the Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l’éducation du Québec (FPPE-CSQ) and the Fédération du personnel de l’enseignement privé (FPEP-CSQ), as well as the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT-APEQ) are very concerned about the conditions in which the government plans to reopen the schools.

While a return to classes is of great importance for the success and well-being of students, the CSQ thinks that the conditions in which the return will take place, next Monday, are far from optimal.

“Once again, the government’s lack of communication and last-minute strategy is creating shock-waves in the network. As it prepares a full-on paradigm shift for the management of the pandemic, and given the conditions in which the return to classes will take place, it should have used a more competent educational approach for both staff and for the public at large. Because the way we will be managing cases will be different from now on. Today, we have understood that these changes will be made on the backs of education staff,” emphasized, Éric Gingras, President of the CSQ.

The Centrale and its federations believe that today’s announcements contain major shortcomings and numerous unknowns. For days, the government has repeated that the coming weekend will be the most important in terms of cases and that the effects on the healthcare network will be significant. But in the same breath, it is reopening schools with a new case and contact management protocol that anticipates reducing the isolation period. 

The government itself recognizes that there will be many cases in the schools, among students and among staff alike. Moreover, it anticipates that school service centres will have to put in place contingency plans to avoid service disruptions. Still, nothing at all has been done to address inadequate classroom ventilation. In short, the coming weeks will be difficult in the networks, although it could have been different.

What the school network federations are saying

“Even if the teachers agree with a return to in-person learning that is safer for everyone, when we see the measures that the government has put forward, we wonder whether the schools will have become daycares rather than a living environment in the service of learning. We need a clear plan, and it is difficult to understand why, if education is a priority, it is subjected to so many random and arbitrary staff transfer measures. The damage to learning will be significant in the end.”– Josée Scalabrini, President of the FSE-CSQ

“The government has just informed us that from now on, the school service centres will do as they please with support staff. With the new staff transfer measure announced in education, it would be possible, for example, for a concierge be called on to cease performing his tasks and instead take care of a disabled student. Or, with the elimination of ratios, one educator alone could be assigned responsibility for 50 or even 60 students. In short, there is no regard or respect for staff or for the quality of service provided to students. From now on, it appears that what matters is to stay open, whatever the cost.” – Éric Pronovost, President of the FPSS-CSQ

“We want students to return to classes in a safe context. Professional personnel want to provide students with the services they need. Unfortunately, for the moment, the conditions of returning to in-person learning raise more questions and concerns than answers.” – Jacques Landry, President of the FPPE-CSQ

“Between the satisfaction of seeing students again and our own rising anxiety about a return to classes, private school education staff are asking for greater clarity around the application of new health measures. There is nothing reassuring about the improvisation of this last-minute plan. It forecasts the heavy workload that will be required to apply it and to alternate between distance-learning and in-person learning. Returning to classes at any cost is an understandable choice for the mental health of our young people, however, there is a cost for education personnel: anxiety, overtime hours and OHS risks that continue to be too high. Minister, take action!” – Stéphane Lapointe, President of the FPEP-CSQ

“It is obvious that, without any necessary additional health measures, specifically with regard to air quality in the classrooms, the government is ready to sacrifice the health of teachers and students because outbreaks will skyrocket. In our view, the staff transfer measures proposed compromise the quality of the education network, and as a result, they will create an urgent need for educational support to bridge learning gaps.” – Heidi Yetman, President of the QPAT-APEQ

CSQ profile

The CSQ represents close to 200,000 members, of whom about 125,000 are part of the education personnel. The CSQ counts 11 federations which combine about 240 affiliate unions; also included is the AREQ (CSQ), the Association des retraitées et retraités de l’éducation et des autres services publics du Québec. The CSQ is also present in the health and social services, daycare services, municipal, leisure, culture, community and communications sectors.

Twitter: CSQ_Centrale


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