Montreal

Health-care professionals join chorus of parents, teachers concerned by back-to-school measures

The measures the group want the government to apply include making face masks mandatory everywhere inside schools, separating student by at least one metre in classrooms and evaluating and updating school ventilation systems.

Make face masks mandatory throughout school as well as distancing in classrooms, group says in open letter

A group of physicians and scientists who are also parents of young children have written an open letter asking the provincial government to implement more measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. (Oksana Kuzmina/Adobe Stock)

A group of health-care professionals, including doctors and medical school professors and department heads, are circulating an open letter asking the Quebec government to implement tougher measures against COVID-19 in schools. 

The letter is so far signed by nearly 20 professionals who are also parents of mostly elementary-age children. 

It says they are "largely disappointed" by Quebec's back-to-school measures, revealed Aug. 10, which require Grade 5 students and older to wear face masks in common areas, but do not implement distancing in classrooms. 

"We all want our children to be back in school. We all agree that that's the best place for them to be, but we think that the plan could go a lot further to ensure the safety of our kids, our teachers and also our community," said Dr. George Thanassoulis, who wrote the letter and is an associate professor of medicine at McGill University. 

The measures the group wants the government to apply include making face masks mandatory everywhere inside schools, separating students by at least one metre in classrooms, as well as evaluating and updating school ventilation systems.

Earlier this month, more than 20,000 parents signed an online petition calling for similar changes to the province's back-to-school plan.

Group wants parents to be able to choose online-learning

They also want parents to be given the option of choosing online-learning for their children, without needing a doctor's note as the government has mandated.

The letter says parents should also be forced to screen their children for symptoms before school every day. 

On Friday, a group of parents represented by lawyer Julius Grey launched a legal challenge against the provincial government arguing, they should be allowed to decide whether to keep their children home or not.

Grey and the plaintiffs claim not giving them the choice is unconstitutional, infringing on, among other things, the charter "right to life, liberty and security of the person."

The legal challenge came as the Health Ministry issued strict guidelines for doctors issuing medical exemption notes.

With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio

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