EMSB mom keeping her kids at home out of COVID concerns warned youth protection may step in

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A Montreal mother who's been keeping her elementary school kids at home out of concerns over the pandemic has been warned that youth protection services may step in if they don't return to school. 

The mom of two children at the English Montreal School Board got the registered letter - obtained by CJAD 800 - from their school this week, eight days after the session started. She is not being named because of the possibility of youth protection services being involved. 

The EMSB mom - who reached out to yourstory@cjad.com - said her children have been home since last week and she's been helping her kids with reading, workbooks and physical activities.

"They're treating me as if I'm a neglectful parent when all I'm trying to do is keep my family safe the only way I know how," said the mother.

She said she would have sent her kids back last week if all children were obliged to wear a mask in school - right now it's for those in Grade 5 and up.

"I'm not willing to take that risk with my kids," she said.

Law is the law: education ministry, EMSB

The education ministry said in a statement to CJAD 800 that children have to be in school despite the pandemic. 

EMSB spokesman Mike Cohen said they can't comment on the specific case. He said in general, they always have to advise parents - COVID or no COVID - and in cases like this, they just follow orders. 

"There are options for parents who insist on not sending their children to school. The youth proection only gets involved if at a certain point we're not getting any response from the parents. We don't know why the child is not in school and of course, that's the law. So we have to follow the law," said Cohen.

The EMSB mom said homeschooling is not an option for the working couple - particularly for their child in Grade 4. She said she told the school last week her children wouldn't attend for now because of COVID concerns.

"They cannot guarantee that I will be safe if I get it. Even if it's a five per cent chance that I should have to be hospitalized, my kids need their mother. I'm the number one caregiver in the house, my husband works long hours. If I'm not here, they won't have someone to drive them to school and then my elderly parents are going to have to come and step in," she said.

"So I'm doing what I think is best for our family."

She said now she feels like she has no choice but to send her children back to school next week.

"Every single day that they go back, I will be worried every night that they are bringing it back into our house."
 

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