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What a school day looks like in Quebec amid reopening measures
TORONTO -- As Quebec continues with its reopening measures, schools outside of the Montreal region continue to conduct classes, but not without following health safety measures.
Queen Elizabeth elementary school, located in the small town of Kazabazua just outside of Montreal, is just one of the few Quebec schools that have opened as of May 11 when the provincial government allowed a maximum of 15 students per classroom.
Rules such as measuring a two-metre distance have become the new normal, and painted squares on the floor are used for children to have their own space.
Speaking to her students, teacher Naomi Fishman described the square as an “island.”
“This is their island with everything they need for their day of learning, and it is their personal space,” Fishman told CTV News.
While some children were eager to return to school, the decision to reopen the classroom was met with some concern from teachers.
“We all felt this thing in the pit of our stomach, felt nerves,” Fishman said.
Classrooms have been re-opened for two weeks, and within that time Quebec's Education Department announced 40 staff and students have tested positive for COVID-19, including ten students and a teacher from a classroom in Trois-Rivieres. Out of the 72 school boards, the highest number of cases were found in the Laurentians and Monteregie school regions, outside of Montreal.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault insisted Friday that re-opening schools was the right decision.
“Children are happy, parents are happy,” Legault said at a press conference.
While Queen Elizabeth elementary hasn’t had any cases of COVID-19, the school has taken steps to limit the spread. An isolation room has been set up in the event that a student shows symptom. The room is equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks and gloves.
With only 11 students attending classes, down from their regular 87, Queen Elizabeth has also had to implement a series of new rules.
Aside from various hand-washing throughout the day and sanitizing, teachers are also conducting more classes outdoors to avoid spreading the virus in enclosed spaces.
Though there are several new rules to adapt to, principal Debbie Picard said staff and students are making progress.
“We know kids are resilient. They adapt and we have seen this happen and we’re proud of staff and students,” Picard told CTV News.
Virtual activities and classes are also being conducted as teachers and staff continue to find new ways to teach within the new normal.