Judge refuses emergency measure allowing broader remote school in Quebec; legal challenge continues

A judge has refused to grant the emergency measure requested by a group of Quebec parents who wanted remote schooling to be made available to all children regardless of their health.

The judgment today, however, isn't a final conclusion in the case. At this point, Judge Frédéric Bachand of the Superior Court decided that the evidence heard didn't justify intervening immediately by ordering the Ministry of Education to offer universal online courses as soon as possible.

Now, there will be a longer hearing during which parents, as well as the Quebec government, will be able to present their arguments more fully.

Justice Bachand said he believes that legal challenge can be heard this fall.

The parents were challenging the fact that online courses in Quebec are only offered to schoolchildren, at both elementary and secondary levels, who have certain medical conditions or whose parents are at high risk of complications if they contract COVID-19.

Only these students can be exempted from coming to school in person, the Quebec government decided, if they have a doctor's note. All others must physically go to class.

But the parents who brought the case to court -- six mothers, represented by lawyer Julius Grey -- argued that all families should have this choice.

They said there is still much that's unknown about COVID-19 and they're worried that their children or other loved ones could become seriously ill.

They weren't contesting the fact that the school year began in person, nor asking that asking that all children in Quebec be made to take their courses online, but were asking the province's Ministry of Education to offer the online option to those who want it.

This option exists in Ontario, the judge noted in his ruling.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Sept. 8, 2020.

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