Sports and arts outside of class 'bubbles' now allowed in Quebec schools

Students at Quebec schools can now participate in sports and arts activities outside of their classroom bubbles. 

At the end of August, Premier Francois Legault said the province would be able to go forth with this step if the COVID-19 situation in Quebec remained stable. 

Quebec Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge made the announcement on Friday. He said students who've been participating in extracurricular activities with their "bubbles" can, as of Monday, do so with up to two other groups. This applies to both schools with "sports etudes" and other similar programs, as well as those without them. 

Roberge specified that this next step applies to schools in regions labelled green and yellow on Quebec's new regional alert system

Should a region move to the orange alert level, schools in those areas will have to revert back to closed-group activities. 

As of Monday, most Quebec regions are labelled green. However, the Quebec City, Eastern Townships, Outaouais and Laval regions are labelled yellow. 

"Let's work together to stay in yellow or green zones," Roberge said on Friday. "No, we don't want any red zones." 

This new phase also applies to schools that have had a confirmed case of COVID-19, Roberge said. The government's protocol when a school has a case is to isolate those it deems necessary depending on how the disease was transmitted.  

Two weeks ago, the Quebec government began sharing data on COVID-19 cases in schools across the province. In its latest tally, which dates back to Tuesday, it confirmed 118 cases of the disease at 70 institutions and was in the process of validating suspected cases at 50 others. 

In a statement on Thursday, however, Quebec announced it would be pausing the updates to adjust its system. 

"The system for collecting data on COVID-19 in schools, which was recently implemented, is currently undergoing adjustments," the government website reads. "Updating of documents providing an overall picture of the situation in schools is temporarily suspended."

After claiming that Friday's announcement depended on the stability of the COVID-19 situation in the province, the Quebec government moved forward with this step despite a recent upward trend in both daily cases and hospitalizations over the past few weeks. The trend motivated Premier Francois Legault to announce on Thursday that those who don't respect Quebec's mask guidelines will be subject to fines as of Saturday.

Legault maintained that most Quebecers are respecting guidelines but that it's time to "clamp down" on those who aren't. 

"There's a trend that we don't like here, and right now we cannot accept that a few irresponsible individuals put at risk our entire society in Quebec..." he said.  

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