30 April 2020
We have just received from the MÉES answers to some of our questions on reopening. Here are some that affect school support staff.
A case of COVID-19 in a school (Q1 and Q2)
If a student or a staff member has symptoms, they must be quarantined for 14 days. If the symptoms are fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, loss of smell or other symptoms, the person should confine in a place dedicated to this.
There will be no screening tests in schools. People will need to stay home and seek advice.
The ratio in school daycares will 1:10, as it is in the emergency daycares. The maximum number of students per room will 15. So, if there are between 10 and 15 students in the same room, there must be 2 educators.
Group formation (Q11)
There will be no student interaction between groups. The subgroups will be the same as those in the classroom. This applies to classrooms, lunchtimes and daycare.
Students eligible for daycare (Q10)
Daycares will be accessible to students who were already registered on March 13. If other parents wish to benefit, they will have to follow the usual registration procedures.
Time of arrival at school (Q15)
Each establishment will determine the time of arrival in the schoolyard, to both comply with the health regulations and take its own specific circumstances into consideration.
School calendar (Q12 and Q13)
Classes will not extend beyond June 23. School boards will decide whether or not they wish to maintain the pedagogical days.
Students with handicaps, social maladjustments or learning disabilities (Q16 to Q19)
Protective and disinfection equipment will be made available for school staff working with clientele with whom distancing measures cannot be respected, as in many specialized classes.
The measures recommended for schools are a maximum of 15 students per group and adherence to social distancing of 2 meters. Where distancing is possible, it is unnecessary to impose the wearing of a mask, except under special conditions, for example, classes with special needs children. When distancing measures are respected, the wearing of a mask is not recommended by the INSPQ, and schools therefore will not be supplied with masks. However, for teachers who would be more comfortable wearing a face covering, we invite them to consult Wearing a face covering in public (quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/general-information-about-coronavirus/) to learn about how to make and properly use a face cover.
A ready-to-use emergency kit for COVID situations, containing masks, gloves, eye protection, a resealable bag and gown, and an alcohol solution, should be available in the schools.
Hand washing (Q27)
Hand washing should be carried out at the bare minimum upon arrival at school, before and after a meal, and before leaving for home.
Cleaning (Q28 to Q30)
The CNESST and Santé publique will produce a guide. It will contain maintenance protocols for each space where students and staff gather, as well as health protocols for handling documents, teaching materials and games.
Available premises (Q33 and Q35)
If the configuration of a school (size of premises, etc.) cannot accommodate 15 children per classroom, separate groups will be formed to occupy more than one location. Rooms used sporadically (libraries, labs, etc.) could thus be reassigned for other activities, or to accommodate sub-groups of up to 15 students, if required.
Some students (those in the third cycle, for example) could be relocated to the premises of a secondary school in order to free up premises to be used to keep the youngest students in their home school.
The use of community and municipal facilities could also be considered to provide students with educational services close to their homes.
Teaching staff requirements (Q33 and Q44)
It is difficult to anticipate staffing needs at the moment since the number of children who will be attending is not yet known. In addition, the anticipated ratio of 1 teacher per 15 children and the exclusion of vulnerable employees will put additional pressure on teacher availability in elementary schools. If necessary, establishments will be able to call upon, firstly, lists of substitutes and education graduates to meet their needs. Permanent and contract secondary teachers could also become involved, as well as professionals and managerial and support staff currently employed.
Health and Social Services Ministerial Order 2020-008 allows school boards to redeploy their staff where and when needs warrant. It specifically allows them to redeploy secondary teachers to primary schools.
No students can be refused attendance.
Children must remain in their sub-groups of no more than 15 and not play with other sub-groups. Access to playground equipment is prohibited.
Extracurricular activities (Q39)
Extracurricular activities are suspended.
Computer hardware and technical support (Q48 to Q51)
Technical support must be made available locally in service centers to assist teachers and possibly students (as well as parents) in the use of computer equipment and digital tools (software, platforms, etc.).
The school board must loan digital equipment to students and staff who need it. iPad tablets can be ordered by the school boards. Telus will provide a free LTE cellular connection for these devices until June 30.
School transportation (Q54 to Q62)
Parents are encouraged to transport their own children. If this is not possible, they must notify the school a week in advance. Transportation to and from the school will be free. There will be no school transportation available at lunchtime.
The restriction of one child per every second bench must be respected.
Withdrawal of those over 60 or with special medical conditions (Q66 and Q67 to Q70)
Attendance at school is not recommended to personnel with health vulnerabilities (chronic illness, severe immune deficiency, pregnancy or breastfeeding, aged 60 or over). These people may be assigned tasks other than those usually assigned to them. For health and safety reasons, these people are encouraged to postpone their return to school until September 2020.
When assigning tasks, school administrators and human resources managers are being asked, if possible, to consider the requests of people with fears, taking into account that certain functions require a presence in the classroom while others, such as assisting students who have stayed home, can be carried out very well remotely.
There are no exemption rules that apply to the health of relatives such as older parents. Children and workers are advised to use caution when returning home, such as washing hands and changing clothes, for example.
The school boards are responsible for personnel management. It is therefore up to the school board to assess the situation of a parent who has a child with special needs, depending on his or her specific circumstances.
TÉLUQ training (Q80)
Training is available for support staff who wish to familiarize themselves with distance learning.