Unmasked in the Classroom: Between Hope and Anxiety in the School Network

The removal of the mask in the classroom was met with relief and concern in the school network, as experts called for caution.

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Quebec confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that mask-wearing will not be mandatory in class when students are seated, starting March 7.

However, children should wear it when traveling, at nursery school, during physical education classes, and during extracurricular activities.

“This is good news, especially for the most vulnerable and younger students. For those with language disorders, masking is not really easy,” says Nicolas Prevost, president of the Quebec Federation of Educational Administrators.

The reaction in the central labor unions in Quebec was more “mixed”. Its president, Eric Gingrass, realizes that this is “excellent news” for the students, but several questions remain, he says.

He adds that outbreaks are present in many schools, and the ventilation of classrooms is “not settled”.

  • Listen to Patrick Deere’s editorial on QUB Radio:

Demonstrations

For his part, the president of the Independent Education Association can’t help but wonder what the impact of last weekend’s demonstrations in Quebec, when parents demanded the mask to be pulled in class, could have been.

Is this decision, eight months before the elections, intended to respond to this anger or was it already taken in accordance with the epidemiological situation? Sylvain Mallet says:

At the Federation of Parents’ Committees of Quebec, we preferred not to comment on the decision. The organization says the organization relies on public health recommendations.

According to the last report, which dates back to February 17, 3,2006 students (2.34%) and 1,583 teachers (1.16%) were absent due to the virus, numbers that have been decreasing since the beginning of February.

  • Listen to Genevieve Petersen’s interview with Olivier Drouin, founder of Covid-École, on QUB Radio:

Not against, but…

For their part, meet the experts Newspaper Do not oppose this decision, but nevertheless, caution should be exercised.

Benoit Barbeau, professor of virology at UQAM, recalls that the mask “plays an important role in transmitting the virus” and that the risk that relaxation processes could breathe new life into the virus is very real.

“We should expect an increase in transmission over the next few weeks,” he says.

Same story from Alain Lamarre, an immunologist at INRS. ” The timing After release can be conducive to reproduction. Young people who are on vacation are likely to have more contact during the break. Returning to school without a mask risks an increase in the number of cases. »

For his part, pediatrician Olivier Drouin is of the opinion that there was no urgent need to remove the mask in class. “I put that in the category of unpleasant, but not harmful” for children, he says.

He notes that the absence of school for several days due to the virus has much more negative effects.

Experts call for caution

We are still in high levels of hospital treatment, not yet back to normal and yet we have announced a lot of relaxation in no time. There was no urgency, in my opinion. »

– Olivier Drouin, pediatrician at CHU Sainte-Justine

We can’t keep the mask ad vitam aeternam in classes. I’m not against removing it, but I would expect it to be science-based. At the moment, it’s hard to know what numbers to base this ad on. »

– Alain Lamarie, INRS أستاذ Professor

It’s a positive, we feel some wind of optimism that we are entitled to, and it is justified. But we must say that the game was not completely won. We have other fights coming. »

– Benoit Barbeau, Professor at UQAM

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