Back to class 2021

8 January 2021

The Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ) demands clarifications from the Minister of Education

A few hours before the press conference scheduled for today by Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge, the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ) is urging the government to do its homework better.

“After ten months of intensive representations on our part, ten months of living through a pandemic, I find it hard to believe that the government is unable to provide clearer instructions than those presented this week,” says FPSS-CSQ President Éric Pronovost.  “We still do not know, for example, if children in daycare centers, which are common areas, should be required to wear masks.”

Another situation caused by the lack of clear instructions is that some school daycare centers and school boards think that daycares can be transformed into emergency daycare centers once classes are over.  Still others are refusing to let their staff work from home when their physical presence is not essential.

Not to mention the penalized children. “There are some excellent managers in the education sector.  But are some very bad ones too.  The latter abuse and interpret the many ministerial decrees to prioritize costs over the human aspects.  We need to refer only to staff normally assigned to provide direct services to students.  Many are currently seeing hours normally devoted to helping students replaced by disinfection tasks, because there are not enough janitors to meet the needs.  Why not, instead, simply offer them more working hours and thus avoid penalizing the students?” suggests Pronovost. “The ministry needs to issue extremely clear rules to avoid this kind of problem.”

Urgent need for vaccination

With education sector workers in 9th position on the list of vaccination priority groups, the FPSS-CSQ and Éric Pronovost are asking the government “to justify its decision to vaccinate certain groups before frontline education workers. Mr. Legault and his government keep repeating that health and education are their priorities.  Difficult to believe when you find yourself in 9th place,” laments Pronovost.

Effective ventilation… really?

Since mid-December, ventilation systems in a minority of the 3,119 schools in Quebec have been inspected, with or without the participation of school support staff.  The government continues to say that the systems are compliant.  And yet it refuses to make its findings public.

“Once again, we are being asked to take the government’s word for it. But we don’t even know which schools were inspected.  Are we talking about common areas like daycare centers, offices and corridors, or only closed classrooms?  Were these inspections carried out when the school was empty?  What about boiler rooms which are generally warmer?  Is it safe for our members to work there?  So many questions still unanswered.  And the word of elected officials no longer satisfies me.  We are demanding proof,” says the FPSS-CSQ President.