Sure, it’s heartbreaking and tricky, but reopening schools as planned next Monday is the right thing to do.
It is heartbreaking and delicate above all because it may seem to go against the strategy put forward since the beginning of this crisis: to reduce contact.
It’s heartbreaking and delicate, too, because the conditions in the school system are far from ideal.
But it was a question of making a trade-off between different objectives, keeping in mind that we should not only seek to prevent our children from being infected by a virus against which they are the ones who resist best.
While their parents continue to limit their contacts to curb the spread of the virus, children must return to school because they have the right to be in school, to continue their learning and development and to return to this life. social security that they have been deprived of for too long since the start of the pandemic.
They have to go back to school because we have seen with dismay the distress that seizes a large number of them when we put their normal life on hold for too long.
Their health is at stake.
Of their well-being.
They have to go back to school, too, because that is one of the essential components of a change in strategy, whereby one has to gradually learn to live with this virus.
Schools are reopening almost everywhere else in North America, for that matter.
“We must manage the disease differently,” said this week the president of the Federation of Specialist Physicians of Quebec, Vincent Oliva, to our journalist Ariane Lacoursière.
He is right. And that doesn’t just apply to the health care system, but to our schools as well.
The dominant variant having changed – it is more contagious, but less virulent – and vaccines having long since proven their effectiveness, it is no longer the same pandemic.
The monster is weakened and our shields are stronger.
Reopening primary and secondary schools on January 17 is therefore a logical choice.
However, we are not going to sin here by excess of naivety.
Let’s say it: it’s not going to be easy.
And that does not mean that we should not follow very, very closely the transmission among young people and that which, in the community, will be linked to it.
It was recently reported that the contagion in specialized schools, where lessons are already given, is worrying.
Finally, that does not mean either that we would not have liked the Legault government to do more to ensure that this return to school goes as smoothly as possible under the circumstances.
Additional efforts could have been made in recent months, but also in recent days.
We cannot say, for example, that we tackled the problem of ventilation in schools. We have made some progress since the start of the pandemic, it’s true, but slowly and painfully.
We are also thinking of vaccination: could we not have orchestrated targeted campaigns targeting certain regions where young people are still insufficiently vaccinated?
And redouble our efforts, moreover, to provide rapid tests to all elementary and secondary students. Yes, there will be… but not at the start of the school year.
Finally, we also think of the N95 masks, which will be distributed to schools and specialized classes. Even if their effectiveness in a school context is still debated, we could also have offered them to all teachers who ask for them.
The feeling of insecurity, evoked by the unions, should not be taken lightly.
All these grievances expressed by various network actors are important and valid.
These problems remain urgently to be remedied.
However, the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater.
We can deplore the failures in crisis management and continue to demand more tools from teachers, staff and school administrators without, however, further compromising the well-being of our children.