Quebec teachers' union wants to see province's back-to-school plan now, not next week

A union representing 45,000 Quebec teachers is demanding that the Quebec government show them its plan to re-open the province's schools now, and not next week.

At his daily COVID-19 briefing in Quebec City Wednesday, Premier Francois Legault said his government would release its plan to gradually open Quebec's businesses and schools at some point next week.

Schools throughout Quebec have been closed since mid-March.

But the Federation autonome de l'enseignment (FAE) didn't waste much time saying that timeline is unacceptable; it issued a statement later Wednesday afternoon saying it was "stupefied" that the government has not already shown Quebec teachers the plan, and demanded that it do so right away.

"Although returning to class was inevitable since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the gradual reopening of schools raises many questions, both in terms of security and in terms of academic activities, and for which no answer has been given to date," the FAE said in its statement.

The FAE said it wants to see the plan now so it can offer its suggestions to improve it before the plan is carved in stone.

The union also denounced the anxiety that Quebec teachers have been left with as the government formulates a plan that will so directly affect them, only without their input.

"Premier Legault has no idea of the uncertainty and worries he has caused in the education sector in Quebec by announcing the gradual reopening of educational establishments in certain regions," the FAE said in its statement, noting that some 20 per cent of its members are older than 55, have health problems or are immunocompromised.

"Beyond health considerations, we do not even know what we will have to do during these school days, when we must do the annual evaluation of our students and, above all, prepare for the next school year, which will not be easy for teachers in the public school system."

Earlier this week, Legault said schools would not open by May 4, as he had previously suggested was possible, and that the province would need two weeks to implement even a gradual return to classes.

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