Quebec postpones obligatory return to campuses by two weeks

In the face of a sharp rise in Omicron cases, the Legault government has postponed the mandatory return to CEGEP and the university for two weeks. Quebec allows institutions to continue virtual teaching during a “transition period” until 31 January.

According to what Duty learned Quebec maintains a return to class “from January 17,” as recommended by the Department of Public Health. However, CEGEP and universities may, if necessary, offer distance learning courses for a further two weeks.

The Ministry of Higher Education “in cooperation with the public health authorities monitors the development of the health situation and ensures that the resumption of activities at universities is safe. The autumn semester of 2021 went well and the epidemics in the universities were few and well controlled, “said ministry spokesman Bryan St-Louis.

Although Quebec maintains the principle of returning to the classroom on January 17, institutions have already announced online tuition for the entire January, or even until the end of February.

John Abbott College, located in West Montreal, has told its staff and students that teaching will take place at a distance throughout January and “probably” until mid-semester, on February 25th. Following a meeting this week with English-speaking public health officials, CEGEP concluded that “the risk of a ‘normal’ start to the meeting is too great.”

In anticipation of “details” from the Ministry of Higher Education, the facility said it was playing security because of the increase in hospitalizations and the “inability of the system to detect positive cases.” [de COVID-19] “.

The Office of the Minister of Higher Education, Danielle McCann, informed about it I have to that John Abbott College will have to wait for new instructions before confirming the extension of distance education to February.

Elsewhere in the network of colleges and universities, return dates vary widely. According to our sources, the University of Sherbrooke adheres to the guidelines announced by Quebec on December 30 and is still planning full-time courses from January 17. However, several universities did not wait for the green light from Quebec to announce a remote start by January 24 (for example, UQAM) or January 31 (University of Montreal).

“Stress and Confusion”

Teachers’ unions and student associations are asking for new guidelines for the rest of the winter semester as soon as possible. A meeting of the network’s actors with the Ministry of Higher Education is scheduled for January 12, five days before the scheduled return to the classroom.

“It’s really late.” You don’t prepare for a CEGEP or university meeting by turning a penny, ”says Caroline Quesnel, president of the National Federation of Quebec Teachers (FNEEQ-CSN), which represents most CEGEP teachers and university lecturers.

“It seems to me that after almost two years of pandemics, we should be more predictable. Courses start at universities, but we have no idea where we are going. It creates stress and confusion, “he adds.

Caroline Quesnel deplores Minister Danielle McCann’s “radio silence” since the outbreak of Omicron cases. He recalls that last year the minister only announced a partial return to his university presence in February. This password has been very little adhered to. Students’ motivation and pace of learning were affected in virtual teaching.

Risk of stopping

Students are also eagerly awaiting a clear signal for the rest of the winter semester. “We have a week before the start of the school year and the student population has no idea what this meeting will look like,” mourns Samuel Vaillancourt, president of the Quebec Collegiate Student Federation (FECQ).

According to him, uncertainty puts a great deal on the morale of young people. The risk of falling out is great. Students need predictability to balance study and work schedules.

Teachers have to prepare two completely different lesson plans due to uncertainty about being present or out of school. It’s twice as much work. “You can’t sit in front of a computer for three hours and act like you’re in class. We would lose the attention of students, “says Marianne Di Croce, Professor of Philosophy at Cégep de Saint-Jérôme.

He experiences many adaptation difficulties among his students. The teacher “has never seen so many failed students in 15 years of teaching.”

“We cannot improvise, we must adapt to maintain quality teaching,” confirms Marie-Noëlle Simard Déchêne, a lecturer at the Laval University School of Administration. He sees a lot of closed cameras in some virtual classrooms. It is more difficult to get students to react, to discuss. Takes note of a number of late submissions.

Satisfaction is all the greater when students embark, he explains.

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