Ultra-Orthodox Jewish council explains that schools can remain open in Quebec
The Council of Hasidic Jews of Quebec says ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools are not violating the Quebec government's decree by remaining open during the holiday break and the council is accusing Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge of using the Hasidic community as a scapegoat by unnecessarily poisoning the public debate.
Earlier in December, the government decreed that elementary and secondary schools in Quebec would remain closed at least until Jan. 11 and that distance education would be provided to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
The Council of Hasidic Jews reports that the school calendar of its schools does not allow time off between late December and early January.
The council adds that distance education is not feasible in its schools and that closing them would prevent the educational needs of children in the community from being met.
The organization adds that the decree provided for students with learning difficulties or needing adjustments and that educational establishments can offer educational services in the classroom.
In the council's opinion, Hasidic students fall into these categories.
Belz Community School director general Hudy Herzog says if the law changes, schools will close and currently do not enjoy special treatment.
In an email sent to La Presse, communications director for Minister Roberge's office Claudia Landry wrote that non-compliance with instructions exposes educational establishments to fines for violation of health rules. She added that the rules applied to all schools in Quebec, without exception.
The council, however, ensures that Hasidic schools can teach students in class while respecting health rules, physical distancing and wearing a mask.
-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2020.