Preschool and elementary school
Preschool and elementary school students return 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 2-metre physical distancing rule must be maintained between students from different stable class groups when they move around in common areas, including hallways.
For the territory of the Montréal metropolitan community
For the Montréal metropolitan community, pediatric masks are currently being delivered to school service centres, school boards and private educational institutions. As of March 8, 2021, pediatric masks will replace face coverings for all Elementary 1 to 6 students.
For other territories located in a red zone
As of March 8, 2021, all Elementary 1 to 6 students will be required to wear a face covering at all times until pediatric masks have been delivered to their respective educational institution. School service centres, school boards and private schools will start receiving pediatric masks the week of March 15. Thereafter, they will gradually become available.
Educational institutions are responsible for distributing pediatric and procedural masks at the elementary level.
In orange zones
Face coverings remain mandatory at all times for Elementary 5 and 6 students in orange zones until the respective educational institution has received the pediatric masks intended for these students. As soon as pediatric masks are available, Elementary 5 and 6 students must wear them instead of face coverings.
In addition, face coverings are mandatory for Elementary 1 to 4 students in common areas, when circulating in the school and when using school transportation. Face coverings are not mandatory outdoors, however. Elementary 1 to 4 students are therefore not required to wear a face covering in the school yard and when circulating outside the school.
At the preschool level, wearing a face covering is not required.
For more information, refer to the fact sheet (PDF 252 Kb) on wearing face coverings in various contexts, which complies with the guidelines that are in force until March 7, 2021.
Organization at the secondary level is based on the same principle as that applied in elementary school, meaning that schedules for courses and special pedagogical projects are adjusted so that stable class groups can be maintained. Physical distancing is not required between students in the same stable 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.
Secondary school student must continue to wear a procedural mask at all times when in classrooms, when circulating in the school and on school grounds, and when using school transportation.
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 pedagogical projects) cannot be reorganized to maintain stable class groups. Depending on the needs they have identified, each educational institution may 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 red and orange zones, alternating in-person and remote attendance (presence in school one out of two days) is required for students in Secondary III, IV and V.
For more information on wearing face coverings and procedural masks, see the information sheet on wearing face coverings and procedural masks in various contexts (PDF 252 Kb), which complies with the guidelines that are in force until March 7, 2021..
In addition, students with a condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering or procedural mask securely are exempted from this requirement. Please consult the Wearing a mask or a face covering in public settings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic page for more information about the authorized exemptions.
Measures to ensure student success
During the 2020 back-to-school period, the Québec government provided the education network with additional funding to foster students’ educational success. More specifically, an investment of close to $100 million made it possible to support students in their return to class and in the consolidation of their learning.
The various measures include the following:
- new activities in the areas of curriculum catch-up, remedial education and homework assistance
- hundreds of thousands of hours of additional direct services for students with disabilities, social maladjustments or learning difficulties
- new complementary tools for distance learning
- more resources and more time for students
- creation of 75 new special classes
- support to encourage students to stay in school
- increased access to homework assistance
In order to lend a helping hand to school staff, the Québec government is investing close to $38 million starting in January 2021 to implement several measures aimed at providing support to students who are experiencing difficulties due to the pandemic. These difficulties may relate to students’ learning or their psychological well-being.
Support will focus primarily on two areas: assistance activities (tutoring and personalized support) and activities relating to student well-being at school.
These initiatives include:
- the use of tutoring services to support students experiencing difficulties, with the help of current staff, retired staff and students
- additional funds to recruit current and retired staff and to appeal to college and university students (future teachers)
- the implementation of new guidance and support services by partner organizations, such as Alloprof and Tel-jeunes
- training and support for staff to allow them to better handle issues related to students’ mental health and well-being (e.g. anxiety)
- the mobilization of educational institutions to develop projects that foster student well-being
For more information, refer to the Tutoring and support page.
Other solutions are also being planned by school teams to provide more support for students experiencing academic difficulties. If you believe your child has fallen significantly behind in their learning, do not hesitate to contact their school.
All students who attend public schools and who require electronic devices to continue with their learning will receive them. School service centres and school boards have the necessary resources to provide the required equipment to all institutions.
In January 2021, the government also announced an investment of $10 million in adult general education and vocational training in the context of the current health crisis to improve existing services or programs, based on local needs. This funding may be used to implement various initiatives, such as:
- additional support for students affected by lockdown restrictions in order to foster their educational success, particularly by adding resources and organizing work spaces
- enhanced personalized pedagogical support (e.g. tutoring, mentoring, resource teachers), particularly for programs that are being taught remotely
- training for teachers
- hiring temporary human resources or adding work hours to implement the changes required at an educational institution (e.g. intern placements, reorganization of the schedule, logistics concerning the use of rooms, labs and workshops)
- support for organizing and implementing distance education services for staff members and centres that need it
Measures to ensure a healthy school environment
Various measures are also being taken to provide a healthy school environment for all students.
Maintenance and disinfection in schools and on school transportation
The maintenance of school buildings has been improved through the hiring of additional maintenance staff, which has resulted in more frequent cleaning and disinfection each day.
This also applies to school transportation in red ans onrange zones, where frequently touched surfaces must be disinfected after each route. Whenever possible, it is also recommended that windows be left open during a route.
In addition, while using school transportation, all elementary students are required to wear face coverings, and all secondary students must wear procedural masks.
Note that parents are asked to arrange their own transportation for their children whenever possible.
Air quality in schools
In order to ensure rigorous control of air quality in schools in Québec, air quality tests were carried out by school service centres and school boards in December to measure the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 330 school buildings. These tests ensure that the air in schools meets the expected quality standards.
The results show that the average level of CO2 is lower than the maximum amounts recommended in the vast majority of classrooms tested. For more information, see the summary sheet (PDF 426 Kb) (available in French only) on air quality in schools.
School service centres, school boards and private educational institutions are asked to create a program for monitoring the main standards related to air quality within their buildings. They must carry out air quality tests in all establishments under their jurisdiction, starting now and on an annual basis, to ensure that air quality standards are met. Rapid intervention will take place when necessary, in compliance with the new guidelines issued by the public health authorities in response to a report prepared by a group of scientific and technical experts and coordinated by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, and based on the Document de référence sur la qualité de l’air dans les établissements scolaires [Reference document regarding the air quality in schools, available in French only], while applying the measurement protocol established by the Ministère.
Sport-études, Arts-études, special pedagogical projects, educational field trips and extracurricular activities
Special pedagogical projects (e.g. Sports-études, Arts-études, concentrations) can continue as long as the principle of stable class groups is respected. If this is not possible, a 2-metre distance between students from different stable class groups must be maintained at all times, and the health guidelines must be strictly respected.
Secondary school students can remove their procedural (or surgical) masks if it is necessary to do so to participate in an activity (physical exercise, playing a wind instrument, etc.), provided that the 2‑metre distance between students is respected, even between students who are in the same class group.
For optional courses, students must remain 2 metres apart and wear a procedural mask at all times. These courses can also be offered through distance learning.
Professional services offered to vulnerable students will continue to be provided on an individual basis or for groups of no more than six students spaced at least 2 metres apart.
Daycare services are provided for students from the same stable class group; it is also possible to create subgroups with 2 metres of distancing or physical barriers between them, while ensuring that the children are not isolated from the group. For optional courses, students must remain 2 metres apart and wear a face covering at all times. These courses can also be offered through distance learning.
In-person extracurricular activities are suspended. Extracurricular activities that take place entirely online or at a distance are permitted. Educational field trips are also suspended. However, it is possible to replace them with virtual field trips or activities that take place at school, provided certain terms and conditions are met and the current health measures are respected.
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. At all times, schools must ensure that is it possible to trace cases and sources of infection.
A distance of 2 metres must be maintained at all times between students and school staff, except in 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. Protective equipment is also mandatory for teachers and support staff working with specialized classes, where a 2-metre physical distance between staff and students cannot be maintained.
Staff members must wear a face covering at all times when moving around the school. In all zones, staff members at other levels of education are not required to wear masks in class if they remain 2 metres away from students. In schools located in red and orange zones, wearing a procedural mask is mandatory for all school staff at all times in common areas, in rooms used by staff and on school grounds.
The administration and staff must ensure that they comply with the Hierarchy of Control Measures in the Workplace .
In the event of temporary school closures, a minimum number of hours of educational services 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.
Adult general education and vocational training
Consult the Measures in force page to see the restrictions that apply at each alert level.
Since the start of the school year, all school service centres, school boards (English sector and those with a special status) and private educational institutions have had 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 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.
To consult also
- Emergency school daycare services
- Support for parents during the pandemic
- Learning to Be Prioritized for the 2020-2021 School Year in the Context of the Pandemic
- The ABCs of Wearing a Mask at School (PDF 420 Kb)
- Situation in schools
- Answers to questions
- COVID-19 - Procedure to follow in educational institutions (PDF 140 Kb)
- Emergency protocol / reconfinement plan - memory aid (PDF 493 Kb)
- Children and COVID-19 - Stay alert to keep the virus from spreading (PDF 265 Kb)
- Educational system - Health measures by regional alert level (PDF 289 Kb)
Last update: March 5, 2021