3 September 2020
The FPSS-CSQ questions Ministry of Education choices
A week after the official start of the school year, the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ) is extremely concerned about how the “classroom bubbles” concept is playing out in the field.
FPSS-CSQ representatives are consequently urging Minister François Roberge to find immediate solutions, which will inevitably require massive investment in education!
It the guide to school daycare services it gave to parents, the government states that the classroom bubbles must also be respected in daycares. If this is not possible, a second classroom-group should be created.
“The problem here is that this ‘second classroom-group’ can easily include students from several different classes! This week I saw ‘second classroom-groups’ that combined children from more than ten different classes. How are distancing norms being respected? How is this safe for children and for staff?” worries FPSS-CSQ President Éric Pronovost.
The labour shortage is a factor
The labour shortage of school support staff that the Federation has been denouncing for years is obviously part of the problem. But the situation is much worse this year, causing problems we are now hearing about from Santé publique.
“One week after the start of the school year, in the 24 service centers we represent, there are still more than 600 vacant support staff positions, in both direct services to students and other areas. If working conditions were better, people would want to fill these positions. This would give us enough staff to respect the classroom bubble concept, for example!” says Pronovost. We feel like the orderlies of the education sector. Money and recognition of our work is what is required!” he says.
Many problems are emerging in the current situation. Daycare groups, for example, are not respecting the ratio of one educator per 20 students. The same educator may find herself monitoring the hallway for 2 or 3 classes at the same time and may have up to 50 students under her supervision. To the detriment of the children, of course.
And after only five working days, a disturbing trend is beginning to emerge: several student supervisors are already leaving their jobs due to completely disorganized situations in several schools. Which means that students are having to cope with a high turnover of personnel, with effects on their development and equilibrium.
“It just adds to all the challenges students are already facing in this situation. The government needs to urgently address the problems currently facing school support staff! For the well-being of all of us!” says Éric Pronovost.
Kindergarten for 4-year-olds: was it really so urgent?
It was easy to predict that the 2020 school year would be difficult, given the context of the pandemic. Which makes it completely incomprehensible that the minister went ahead with his plan to expand kindergarten for 4-year-olds throughout Quebec, knowing how demanding the implementation of such a project can be.
“I think we are entitled to question Minister Roberge’s judgement! In the midst of a pandemic, facing a labour shortage, and knowing the difficulties that applying public health measures to 4-year-olds would represent, how could the Minister of Education believe that it would be a good idea to go ahead with the project?” asks Pronovost. “And the worst thing is, we warned him!”