March 25, 2021

Montreal, March 25, 2021 – The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) is disappointed by the premier’s decision to force secondary 3, 4 & 5 students back to school in-person next week in the red zones and orange zones without consulting the experts on the ground.

The premier made this announcement for the red and orange zones yesterday and all affected school boards are expected to implement the turnaround in four days. Administrators, teachers, school staff, and bus drivers are still not on the priority list for vaccination even though they are essential frontline employees. Furthermore, many schools are working with limited staff due to exposure to the virus and the new variants, which puts staff members in isolation for a two-week period, with fewer and fewer replacements available. These arbitrary changes are also raising the incidence of staff burnout after a year of incredible effort and dedication on their part.

“One size can’t fit all in a situation like the one we are in. Some of our boards are already back at full capacity in yellow zones and that is working well. Red and orange zone school boards should have had a two-week notification period to plan for a staggered re-entry and in-school staff vaccinations,” said QESBA President Dan Lamoureux.

“All we are asking for is leniency for school boards to be able to examine their own realities and the time to make the necessary arrangements to ensure a safe back-to-school plan. Furthermore, we are asking that all in-school employees and bus drivers be placed on the priority list for the vaccine with a rollout plan by the government,” continued the President.

“These are the types of situations where prior consultation by the government is extremely important and could have alleviated this type of additional stress and anxiety among the communities involved,” concluded the President.

QESBA is the voice of English public education in Québec and represents 100,000 students in 340 elementary, high schools, and adult and vocational centres across Québec.