Quebec elementary school teachers back at work after COVID outbreak scared and anxious

SCHOOL

Arundel Elementary in the Laurentians reopened Tuesday after closing for two weeks following an outbreak of COVID, as first reported by CJAD 800 earlier this month.

But, teachers say they should have stayed closed for a while longer and they don't feel it's safe for anyone in the school. 

"We feel that everybody is a bit anxious," said one teacher who reached out to yourstory@cjad.com and wished to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions.

"We feel that it's a bit too soon (to go back) since we had so many cases, positive cases in the last two weeks."

As many as 36 cases at one point - the school has 96 students and 10 staff.

In a letter sent to the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board and the parents' governing board - obtained by CJAD 800 - teachers expressed their concerns and made a plea for more measures to protect the school community.

They said they asked to stick with distance learning which was going well, and for extra measures like the ones they had in the spring  - such as fewer personal items in class and more restricted movement in and out of classes. They said they also asked for a meeting with the Quebec Workers Health and Safety Board, the CNESST. But, teachers said their requests were refused.

"Everybody is scared of carrying the virus since a lot of students here who did test positive were asymptomatic and it could be the case at the moment," said the teacher.

"We think it's far from being safe."

Teachers said they are particularly concerned because of how small the school and the community are and how easily the virus could spread.

The Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board said they're sensitive to their concerns and did put in some extra measures.

"The safety and security of our staff and students remains our utmost priority, and as such, we are committed to continue supporting our Arundel Elementary School community," the board said in a statement.

"We continue to monitor the situation very closely while maintaining our partnership with the Direction de la Santé Publique des Laurentides and the CNESST.  

The public health department told CJAD 800 that everyone who ended their self-isolation period was able to go back to school.

"They did post some posters about washing your hands, we do have plexiglass here and there but everybody knows that when you're teaching at an elementary school, it's very hard to stay still at your desk," said the teacher.

"We feel we didn't get the help we wanted."

Teachers said they had to speak out.

"(We were) Feeling that, although we ask for help, we ask for other measures, we felt it was too soon ( to go back to school), no one heard our cry," said the teacher.

"If it's not to help our school, maybe it's going to help other schools and other people in this province who are going to go through this same situation."
 

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