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Montreal teacher with cancer blocked from visiting school

The Commission Scolaire de Montreal, Montreal's French-language school board, says an elementary school teacher on sick leave with breast cancer can't visit her school to thank students who'd sent her get-well cards.

French school board in Montreal says employees on sick leave may not visit workplace

Teacher Martine Boulianne told CBC she wanted to visit the school to reassure students who'd been worried about her and to thank them for sending get-well cards. (Martine Boulianne)

The Commission Scolaire de Montreal, Montreal's French-language school board, says a teacher on sick leave with breast cancer can't visit her school to thank students who'd sent her get-well cards.

"I was extremely surprised.  I find the decision lacks humanity," the teacher in question, Martine Boulianne, told CBC.

Boulianne was diagnosed with breast cancer in January and has been on sick leave since.  She's undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

"Just before spring break I got a bunch of notes and pictures from the kids wishing me well.  I wanted to visit the school to thank them," Boulianne said.

She said on Wednesday she felt well enough to visit the school in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. She said she was on her way there when she received a phone call from the administration.

"They told me there was a school board rule saying I wasn't allowed to visit.  They said unless I had a note from a doctor showing I was ready to return to work, I couldn't be at the school, even for a social visit," Boulianne said.

Children worried 

Boulianne said she was surprised because retired teachers or teachers on parental leave often make social visits to the school to see students.

Boulianne said she thought a visit would be good not only for her, but also for the children.

"In the cards they wrote me, many of the students were worried about my health.  I wanted to show them I'm doing well, despite the chemotherapy, that I'm not in bed extremely sick all the time," Boulianne said.

Board says 'standard policy'

A spokesperson for the CSDM, Alain Perron, refused to do an interview with CBC, other than to say that it was a "standard human resources policy" to forbid employees on sick leave from returning to their workplace, even for social visits.

Boulianne says she intends to file a formal complaint with the CSDM, though she said that may have to wait until after her next round of chemotherapy treatments, scheduled to begin next week.

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