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Quebec, March 26, 2020
To Directors and Partners in the Education Network
Last Sunday, the Government of Quebec announced the extension of the closure of all educational institutions in Quebec until May 1 inclusive, due to contagion risks related to COVID-19.
Following communications already sent to you, I want to offer some clarifications for the period commencing March 30.
Obviously, I am aware that other precision's will be required in the face of this unprecedented situation for Quebec’s education network. Other updates will be sent to you so that we can all have the clearest guidelines and adapt as required.
First, I want to remind you that given the situation, all ministerial exams for the 2019-2020 year are cancelled. I would also note that the 2019-2020 school year is not compromised, even if circumstances demand school closures beyond May 1.
The professional judgment of teachers based on assessments made before the closure will enable them to prepare the final report cards.
More detailed procedures for the preparation of these report cards may be communicated to you later.
I remind you that the activities that will be made available will aim, above all, to consolidate student learning during the closure period, and that they remain optional. While important, the content is optional and can in no case serve as a basis for evaluation.
Educational content and school continuity
As you know, beginning March 30, optional pedagogical activities will gradually be offered from online platforms and public television, in order to continue to stimulate student learning. We invite you to make these services known to parents in your territory.
Also, the Ministère de l'Éducation de l'Enseignement supérieur will send you, as of April 6, weekly turnkey packages of pedagogical activities, which we will ask you to transmit to school directors in your territory. The latter will then be able to transmit the whole to their school team.
The kit will contain suggestions for pedagogical activities for all levels of preschool, primary and secondary. They can also be improved or adapted if desired, before being sent to parents.
Directors-general and school administrators are also called upon to mobilize all their staff, so that all can participate in the necessary psychological and pedagogical support for students, by demonstrating flexibility and taking into account each individual’s personal situation.
School staff, supported by their administration, are also invited to carry out personalized weekly follow-ups with their students, prioritizing those they consider to be the most vulnerable, either by telephone or various technological means allowing direct contact (video-messaging services, etc.) If recourse to these options proves impossible, an email can be sent to parents, prompting them to contact resource personnel.
In the same spirit, we invite the professionals and the technical support employees who accompany students to maintain the link with people under their responsibility before the closure on March 13, and to coordinate their interventions with students in conjunction with teachers and school-team members. These follow-ups may be carried out in the same manner as those applicable by the teaching staff.
Access to schools
Until May 1, only directors can enter their school, for example, to retrieve tools to support their team and to coordinate everyone’s efforts from a distance. Otherwise, establishments will remain closed to staff and the public.
School directors (public and private) must prepare the operation for recovery of necessary personal and academic materials, taking into account strict hygiene rules. This activity should be spread out over time and be coordinated to eliminate contact and proximity between people.
Invitations sent to parents should include reminders about the instructions of Santé publique related to traveling in the social distancing context.
We must also ensure that the necessary sanitary measures, notably the cleaning of visitors’ hands, are systematically observed. This process should be an opportunity to lend computer equipment to families by prioritizing students with special needs or living in disadvantaged socio-economic environments. This operation should ideally be completed no later than April 17.
It is always desirable that the school’s teaching materials be made available to parents who request them. We invite you to begin making an inventory of the different resources available (laptops, tablets, textbooks, etc.)
Public sector working conditions
As mentioned earlier, we ask all staff to refrain from going on school premises and to work remotely.
I would also like to clarify that the remuneration of all regular staff is maintained.
Remuneration is also maintained for temporary employees based on hours already known and scheduled until May 1.
Vocational and adult training
We are aware of specific challenges in regard to general adult education and vocational training.
In this context, we invite you to show flexibility and promote, whenever possible, the
recognition of achievements to award diplomas, certificates and certifications, while offering the benefit of distance learning initiatives.
Status of administrative centers
Administrative centers are considered to carry out essential activities. In this regard they remain open until May 1. However, it is requested that staff work remotely to the extent possible.
As mentioned above, I am aware that additional details are required. If you have not already done so, I invite you to submit to us any questions. We will endeavor to respond as soon as possible.
In closing, I want to sincerely thank you for your extraordinary collaboration. Your mobilization is inspiring and should be recognized. Together, we will overcome this crisis.
The Minister of Education and Higher Education
(Translated from the original MEES French document found here) DOC5
Quebec City, March 25, 2020
To Directors of Institutions of Higher Learning and to Education Partners
(extract from translated document found here) – DOC1
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND HIGHER EDUCATION
The government announced the closure of the education system (elementary and secondary schools, training centers, private schools, cégeps, colleges and universities) from March 16 to May 1 inclusive.
Is this measure only for pupils and students?
For the public and private school network
All schools and centers are closed.
The staff usually assigned to these schools and centers must not, subject to exceptional measures, be present on site until May 1 inclusive.
Administrative centers provide essential and strategic services, ideally by teleworking, when possible (tasks must allow it and tools must be available). This means that essential and strategic functions such as payroll management, payments to suppliers, building maintenance and security, and other similar activities, must be fulfilled.
However, considering the exceptional nature of the situation, the personnel may be required at any time for emergency measures, for example, for the extraordinary opening of a temporary daycare service , for the processing of pay, or for a preventive building inspection.
We would like your next internal communications to state that “Cégep campuses, colleges and universities are closed until May 1, inclusive. In the case of colleges and universities, this is intended for students and staff members, while considering all the instructions sent. Thus, for the period from March 14 to May 1 inclusive, all unnecessary teaching and research activities are suspended in the physical premises of universities, cégeps and colleges.”
We remind you that for these activities, as for the other activities related to necessary or essential services, it is for directors to take the necessary decisions to minimize the physical presence in schools and on campuses. Telework should be encouraged. Related activities such as rental of premises as well as sports and cultural activities are also affected by the closure. Staff must continue to perform work functions. Alternative solutions such as teleworking are encouraged, where possible.
What is a necessary or essential service?
It is up to each organization to define its plan for maintaining the necessary or essential services. As for the presence of personnel assigned to essential activities, refer to the answer to Question 1. You can also consult the following address: https://www.quebec.ca/sante/problemes-de-sante/az/coronavirus-2019/fermeture- places-publics-stores-services-covid19 /
Can construction or renovation work continue?
Until April 13, 2020, only two (2) types of work are authorized:
construction firms for emergency repair or for security purposes;
electricians, plumbers and other tradespersons required for emergency services.
Since the majority of schools have closed and maintenance staff (workers, janitors, etc.) are required only for essential services, are there plans to take measures to ensure the continuity of the work already planned in the buildings (lead testing, cleaning, painting, repairs, monitoring of renovation work, preventive and restoration maintenance, etc.)?
Until April 13, 2020, the instruction that all activities carried out in the workplace must be suspended also applies to this type of work. The situation will be reassessed in due course.
However, those stages of projects that can be done at a distance can continue (e.g. production of plans and specifications).
Is it possible for pupils, students or staff to return to their educational establishment to collect personal effects? Can school directors provide accommodation measures in this regard?
The parents of preschool, elementary and secondary students may retrieve their child’s school material at the school according to an established schedule, to avoid gatherings, once the Santé publique will be permitted to put measures in place. This will be done according to very specific instructions and no initiative should be taken until then. It is important that parents wait for instructions from their child's school before going to the school.
Can public and private establishments offer online courses during this period?
Initiatives which can be taken in order to use means other than in-person learning to offer courses or remote support are not prohibited if technological solutions are available. These initiatives can be proposed, but they cannot be demanded.
The MEES will make educational material available to students on the Web and the digital tools that schools possess. Public and private institutions will be invited to transfer or enhance these for the benefit of their clientele. However, use of the tools made available to parents and students is optional and does not constitute an obligation. Work is also ongoing with Télé-Quebec for the dissemination of educational content.
The MEES has encouraged institutions to develop distance learning. How will MEES remedy the situation in the case of establishments and fields of study that cannot use this option?
As of March 30, 2020, parents and students of preschool, elementary and secondary will gradually have access to educational videos broadcast on public television, an online resource kit developed by partners (e.g. educational applications) and optional educational activities offered by schools. Starting April 6, 2020, activity suggestions will be offered to families, adapted to the age of the children, and by subject.
Can the MEES award diplomas to any cohort of students who have not taken their final exams, including ministerial exams?
The Minister may, when the circumstances so require, cancel the test and retain the marks obtained by the educational establishments as the final result. The current exceptional circumstances mean that the administration of ministerial examinations will be cancelled, and that the results of educational establishments will be considered for obtaining diplomas. The passage of students to the next level will be made according to the professional judgment made by teachers, according to results obtained beforehand by the students.
Will you implement consultation measures within the network?
Yes. This consultation mechanism is already in place. Regular conference calls will continue to ensure efficient transmission of information and to discuss the needs that may emerge.
Will students have to resume suspended school time during the summer?
No. There is no question of extending the school year during the summer.
Will the government compensate losses incurred for the cancellation of school trips?
Currently, no compensation is planned. School boards must document all expenses caused by the current situation.
Can a teacher assign homework to students?
Non-compulsory local measures may indeed have been put in place by certain schools or school boards. Moreover, teachers have room to maneuver under collective agreements and can therefore implement various initiatives.
The Minister of Education and Higher Education has asked the school network to quickly provide educational activities accessible through public television, the Web and digital tools available to schools. Use of the tools made available to parents and students is optional and does not constitute an obligation.
Can children with learning difficulties continue with their Individualized Education Plans (e.g. telephone, virtual tools, etc.)?
Whenever possible, it is recommended that the Individualized Education Plan be revised to adjust to this new school reality, prioritizing students with the greatest need. Remember that school administrators are responsible for developing Individualized Education Plans and monitoring them.
Is there a measure planned to meet the nutritional needs of children who need it?
Yes. The MEES is currently working on the implementation of universal food aid in collaboration with various departments and agencies, including the Ministry of Health and Social Services, food banks and the Club des petits déjeuners, with which MEES has a partnership since 2018-2019.
How do we report a situation that does not respect the approach prioritized by authorities?
The authorities prioritize collaboration and cooperation of the population with government measures taken in connection with COVID-19.
•The respect of civic mindedness and instructions issued by the government continues to be the most effective measure to counter the emergence of new cases.
•No decree or recourse to legal provisions obliges the police to punish (e.g. issuance of statements of offense or arrest) citizens violating government orders.
•Police remain vigilant and will continue to intervene according to the powers and duties framing their functions, as well as the intervention priorities that fall under the responsibility of the police force.
•Citizens are asked to not overwhelm the telephone lines of 911 emergency centers and the COG (Centre des opérations gouvernementales) to denounce gatherings. The lines must be free for emergencies.
•Information requests regarding COVID-19 should be addressed to 1-877 644-6565.
•The police services must prioritize their activities and use their resources efficiently in the function of the powers granted to them in the context of a health emergency. They may intervene in exceptional situations in support of the public security authorities as part of their mission.
What actions will the MEES take to continue to offer childcare services to parents who work in the health and social services network, as well as in essential services?
The current emergency childcare services will continue to be open and maintain a good capacity to receive.
I would like my private establishment to offer emergency childcare services for the children of health network and essential services personnel. Is it possible?
No, the schools authorized to open their doors for emergency childcare have already been identified. Other establishments are not requested at the moment.
Who are school emergency childcare services for ?
In a context where Quebecers are preparing for prolonged isolation, the Government of Quebec has expanded the list of occupations deemed essential that allow access to emergency childcare services.
The essential jobs and services that will allow access to emergency childcare as of March 18, 2020, are as follows:
•supply and distribution of drugs and pharmaceutical goods
•home services for seniors
•garbage collectors (waste collection)
•sanitary services (water treatment plants)
•government aviation services
•Ministry of Public Security (civil security and coroners)
•suicide prevention centers
•client communication center of the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity
•Institut national de santé publique du Québec
•Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec
Here is the list of essential jobs and services for which access to childcare services emergency is already granted:
•all professions in the health and social services network
•pre-hospital emergency services (ambulance technicians, dispatchers)
•private offices of professional resources (healthcare network)
•intermediate resources and private residences for seniors
•providers of home services to seniors and who work for social economy enterprises providing home care
•employees of 811 and 911
•educators and support staff of the emergency childcare services
Occupations are targeted by virtue of their direct and immediate impact on the safety and health of Quebecers. Access to the network of childcare services remains restricted to help ensure consistency with all government actions. The measure is put in place to allow you to work during the period during which educational establishments and childcare services will be closed.
Do school daycare staff have access to childcare services (0-5 years)?
These services are also available for staff responsible for providing emergency daycare.
Children under the age of four (4) can attend an educational childcare service. Children who do not occupy a place in a recognized childcare service will be able to obtain a place in a childcare service for the period covered by the state of health emergency. Children who already attend a daycare service can continue to attend it according to the usual schedule and conditions. More information is available at Quebec.ca.
For children aged four (4) who are not usually enrolled in school, they are accepted in emergency school daycare services. This is an exceptional service offered to those people who would have no alternative.
When in doubt, if the person comes to school to receive the service, the instruction given to school board directors is to not refuse anybody.
Should distance measures be put in place if there are several groups in a school?
Yes, you are invited to respect the government guidelines regarding distancing.
Will children in emergency childcare have access to educational services, such as children who are at home because of the closure of educational institutions?
The tools that will be made available to parents and students will also be available to these children. However, their use remains optional and does not constitute an obligation.
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