Return to class after strikes | How does the rest of the school year look?

The Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, will present on Tuesday his catch-up plan for students who missed up to 24 days of school due to strikes in the public sector. What should we expect?

Why a catch-up plan?

Following strikes in the public sector, a readjustment is necessary for the current school year: if students whose teachers are affiliated with the Autonomous Education Federation (FAE) have missed several weeks of school in Due to an indefinite general strike, those whose teachers are represented by the Federation of Education Unions (FSE) only missed a few days.

For several weeks, stakeholders in the education network have been calling on Quebec to decide on the rest of the school year. Thursday, Mr. Drainville indicated that several meetings “with Ministry teams as well as with representatives of school service centers, school principals, parent committees, unions” had taken place during the holiday season. and that a “catch-up plan” would be presented on January 9.

What should it contain?

The Montreal Association of School Directors (AMDES) was consulted by Quebec and requested that the plan be adapted to the needs of each school, because the impacts of strikes will vary for students.

“We saw it at the end of the pandemic, in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods, when we close schools, these students are often more affected. On the other hand, in other environments, we see that parents paid tutors or took over, so learning continued,” says its president, Kathleen Legault.

For example, we could allocate more budget for tutoring, offer overtime to staff or assign classroom help to certain locations.

This is also what the Regroupement des committees de parents nationaux du Québec (RCPAQ) is asking for.

“We have an unprecedented problem: a public primary school in Joliette and a public primary school in Laval have not missed the same number of days,” says its spokesperson, Sylvain Martel. It also calls for measures adapted to each school.

Teacher in 5e and 6e year, Anne-Marie Roberge wonders in particular what will happen to learning in mathematics.

“We have choices to make. With the time we have lost, I am not sure that we will be able to do everything before the Ministry exams at the beginning of June,” illustrates the one whose students have been absent for more than a month. These exams could be postponed or canceled, she says.

Quebec has already announced the postponement of ministerial tests which were planned for January. They will take place a few weeks later than planned.

Will the school calendar be reviewed?

It’s unlikely, say parents and administrators. Canceling the spring break or extending the school year, “that would be a bit like making the children pay,” says the parents’ representative, Sylvain Martel.

“Playing within the calendar seems extremely complex to me on an administrative level, I’m not sure that it’s a door that we want to open,” he adds.

Is this plan coming too late?

By the time Bernard Drainville presents the plan on Tuesday, Quebec teachers will already be in class with their students.

For Anne-Marie Roberge, this plan will arrive a day too late. Monday, an educational day, she will have already prepared part of the rest of the school year. “I’m not the only one who prepares in advance. Monday is our planning, and the plan is not there,” says the teacher.

It would have been “preferable” for it to be ready as soon as the staff returned on Monday, said the president of AMDES, while affirming that the schools will be able to adapt.

At the Regroupement des committees de parents nationaux du Québec, we observe that this plan was well “thought out”. “I feel that there is a common desire, everyone is going in the same direction,” says its spokesperson, Sylvain Martel.

How will the return to class go?

Teacher Anne-Marie Roberge says she will first have to “recreate the bond” with her students, whom she has not seen for more than a month. “We’re going to see how the students are doing, what’s new in our lives,” she illustrates.

She says she is “very motivated” to return to the classroom and describes teaching as her passion. “It’s like going back to school, we’re a little nervous,” says Mme Roberge, who has been teaching for over 20 years.

At AMDES, however, there are fears that certain staff members will not be there.

“A month of closure left its mark. There is a large part of the staff who had the impression that the government was dragging its feet in this negotiation, that it was raking in millions while they were outside,” says Kathleen Legault.

Support staff members who were not full-time may have decided to find other work, she said.


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