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Back-to-school plan for the Fall of 2020 (COVID-19)

As a result of the improvement in the overall epidemiological situation, Québec students are able to attend school in person in the fall of 2020.

Each new school year is unique. In the 2020-2021 school year, as was the case last spring, Quebecers and the education network are required to adapt to new developments. All the necessary measures are being taken to ensure the safety and educational success of students.

Preschool and elementary school

Preschool and elementary school students have returned to class according to the set educator/teacher-student ratios and the principle of stable class groups (students remain in the same group at all times), in compliance with the physical distancing guidelines issued by public health authorities.

All subjects are taught (including Arts Education and Physical Education and Health).

At all levels, students who are part of the same stable class group are not required to follow physical distancing guidelines. However, the 1-metre physical distancing rule must be maintained between students from different stable class groups when they move around common areas, including hallways.

Although face coverings are not mandatory for students from preschool up to and including Elementary 4, students are allowed to wear them in school and when using school transportation. Elementary 5 and 6 students are required to wear a face covering when in common areas and in the presence of students from other stable class groups, and when using school transportation. For more information, refer to the fact sheet (PDF 233 Kb) on wearing face coverings in various contexts.

Secondary school

Classroom organization for Secondary I, II and III students is based on the same principle as that applied in elementary school, meaning that schedules for courses and special projects are adjusted so that stable class groups can be maintained. Physical distancing is not required between students in the same class group.

All subjects are taught within that same stable class group (including Arts Education and Physical Education and Health). Teachers move between rooms according to the subject they are teaching, whereas students remain in the same room.

In Secondary IV and V, school service centres, school boards (English sector and those with a special status) and private educational institutions may opt for an alternative solution if the course schedule (including optional courses and special projects) cannot be reorganized to maintain stable class groups. Depending on the needs they have identified, each educational institution is able to implement an alternating system: in-school learning for a minimum of 50% of the time usually allotted to each subject, complemented by online learning and work to be done at home.

In secondary schools, face coverings are mandatory for students outside classrooms and in common areas or in the presence of students from a different stable class group. Face coverings are also mandatory when students are using school transportation or taking public transit (students ages 10 and over). For more information, refer to the fact sheet (PDF 233 Kb) on wearing face coverings in various contexts.

Sport-études, Arts-études, special projects and extracurricular activities

As of September 14, optional courses, extracurricular activities, concentrations and special projects can be safely offered within groups that are different from the stable class groups.

These activities must take place in accordance with the applicable health and safety guidelines as well as the Progressive regional alert and intervention system (COVID‑19). Students attending schools in green and yellow regions (Levels 1 and 2) can participate in special pedagogical projects and extracurricular activities within a maximum of two stable class groups other than their regular stable class group. To prevent the spread of the virus, schools must modify the services they will offer and revert to closed stable class groups if their region’s alert level is raised to orange (Level 3) or higher.

Professional services for vulnerable students, school daycare services and optional courses will continue to be offered regardless of the regional alert level.

Schools must ensure that students can be contacted at any time should someone test positive for COVID-19.

These guidelines are based on three key premises: reducing the risk of outbreaks, facilitating epidemiological investigations when COVID-19 cases occur and minimizing the number of complete school closures.

Adult general education and vocational training

In adult general education and vocational training, students and adult learners are encouraged to attend class in person, especially for practical and scientific laboratory activities and examinations.

Students and adult learners must wear face coverings at all times, except when seated in a classroom with a minimum distance of 1.5 m between them.

Physical distancing between students/adult learners and teachers must be maintained at all times, except in programs where it is impossible to do so. In that case, students/adult learners and teachers must use personal protective equipment.

School staff

A distance of 2 metres must be maintained at all times between students and school staff, except for preschool (Kindergarten for 4-year-olds and 5-year olds), where physical distancing is not required between students and teachers. However, personal protective equipment is mandatory for preschool teachers.

In the classroom, staff members at other levels of education are not required to wear face coverings if they remain 2 metres away from students. However, they must wear face coverings at all times when moving around the school.

In the event of a second wave or the occasional closure of schools, a minimum level of service will be provided so that all students have access to proper distance learning services. This will promote equity among distance education services, ensure that teachers and non-teaching professionals are available to meet the various special needs of students, and lay the foundations for the work to be provided to students. The minimum number of hours of distance education will vary according to grade level.

Emergency protocol

By the start of the school year, all school service centres, school boards (English sector and those with a special status) and private educational institutions must have an updated emergency protocol suited to their specific situation and to the needs of their students.

The emergency protocol is intended to provide all education stakeholders with a list of elements that must be taken into account in order to make it possible to react quickly to changes that may result from the closure of one or more institutions. The protocol also makes it possible to plan the steps to be taken to ensure that educational services can continue to be offered, in addition to the measures already implemented to ensure that public health and safety guidelines are respected.

The elements to be implemented as part of the protocol include access to technological tools, the adaptation of learning methods and plans to ensure communication and collaboration between schools and families.

Last update: September 11, 2020

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