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Organization of Educational Activities in 2020-2021 (COVID-19)

As was the case last spring, Quebecers and the education network are required to adapt to new developments in the COVID-19 situation. All the necessary measures are being taken to ensure the safety and educational success of students.

Preschool and elementary school

The following guidelines apply to schools located in the green, yellow and orange zones of the COVID-19 alert system.

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.

In schools located in red zones, the following additional measures must be put in place as of October 8:

  • Only one stable class group is permitted, with no physical distancing requirement, at all times.
  • Students from different classes must stay 2 metres apart when moving around in common areas, including hallways.
  • Extracurricular activities are suspended.
  • Field trips and interscolastic activities are suspended.
  • Loans of rooms to municipalities are suspended.
  • Wearing a procedural (or surgical) mask is mandatory for all school staff at all times in common areas, rooms used by staff and on the school grounds.
  • School visitors are kept to a minimum.
  • Increase in the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of common spaces.
  • School daycare services are organized based on the principle of stable class groups or by creating, if necessary, subgroups, provided a 2-metre physical distance is maintained between the subgroups or that they are separated from each other by physical barriers.
  • Students eat lunch with their stable class group, ideally in the classroom. If lunch must be eaten in the cafeteria, students sit only with members of their stable class group and a distance of 2 metres between different groups is maintained.

Secondary school

The following guidelines apply to schools located in green, yellow and orange zones of the COVID-19 alert system.

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 pedagogical 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 pedagogical 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.

In schools located in red zones, the following additional measures must be put in place as of October 8:

  • All students must wear a face covering at all times in common areas, including in classrooms with their stable class group, on the school grounds and during optional courses with a different class group.
  • Extracurricular activities are suspended.
  • Field trips and interscholastic activities are suspended.
  • Loans of rooms to municipalities are suspended.
  • Wearing a procedural (or surgical) mask is mandatory for all school staff at all times in common areas, rooms used by staff and on the school grounds.
  • School visitors are kept to a minimum.
  • Increase in the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of common spaces.
  • Students eat lunch with their stable class group, ideally in the classroom. If lunch must be eaten in the cafeteria, students sit only with members of their stable class group and a distance of 2 metres between different groups is maintained.

Students in Secondary IV and V at schools located in red zones must attend school in a blended learning format that combines in-person teaching and distance learning to allow them to continue their schooling. In practice, students will have courses in class every second day. Educational institutions that have already adopted an alternating-attendance format for Secondary IV and V can continue with the measures already in place.

Optional courses must take place with 2 metres of distance between students at all times or be offered using distance education if the students do not all come from the same stable class group. Students must also wear a face covering, if the specific situation requires it.

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

The following guidelines apply to schools located in green, yellow and orange zones of the COVID-19 alert system.

As of September 14, optional courses, extracurricular activities, concentrations and special pedagogical projects have been 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, yellow and orange regions can participate in special pedagogical projects and extracurricular activities within a maximum of two stable class groups other than their regular stable class group. Furthermore, the creation of additional stable groups is permitted for optional courses required to earn a diploma or for admission to college-level programs.

To prevent the spread of the virus, schools may be required to modify the services they offer and revert to stable class groups if their region’s alert level is raised.

Therefore, for schools located in red zones, extracurricular activities, interscholastic activities and field trips are suspended. Special pedagogical projects (Sports-études, Arts-études) 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. Games and matches are not permitted and all competitions are cancelled, whether organized by schools, associations or private leagues, including individual sports. The only permitted activities are those that take place as informal practice, either individually or in pairs, as long as the physical distancing requirements are respected. Wearing a mask is not required during physical activity.

Professional services for at-risk students, school daycare services and optional courses will continue to be offered in schools located in red zones either individually or in groups of no more than six students, with the 2-metre distancing rule respected at all times.

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

Adult general education and vocational training

The requirements for physical distancing between students and teachers must be respected at all times, except in programs where it is impossible to do so. In that case, students and teachers must wear personal protective equipment.

Students must wear a face covering at all times, except when they are seated in a classroom with 1.5 metres of distance between each person. This distance is increased to 2 metres for schools located in red zones.

School staff

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.

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

In schools located in red zones, wearing a procedural (or surgical) mask is mandatory for all school staff at all times in common areas, in rooms used by staff and on the school grounds.

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.

Emergency protocol

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.

Last update: October 9, 2020

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