More than 1 in 10 Quebec schools have at least one case of COVID-19

A total of 272 schools in Quebec have at least one positive case of COVID-19, according to the province’s Friday update. That’s 25 more schools affected since Thursday’s report. 

Some worry substitute teachers will become vectors for the disease as they move between schools

Children outside a school in Montreal. Having conversations with children about COVID-19 can be difficult, but may be necessary as more schools start to experience outbreaks. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

A total of 272 schools in Quebec have at least one positive case of COVID-19, be it a student or staff member, according to the province's Friday update.

That's 25 more schools affected since Thursday's report. 

That means more than 10 per cent — or one in 10 — of Quebec's 2,685 schools are affected by the pandemic.

In all, 189 classes have had to be shut down since the start of the school year.

The Education Ministry is gathering data from all 72 service centres and school boards from across the province as well as 260 private schools. In all, it adds up to just over one million students.

A total of 401 students and 106 staff members have tested positive since the start of school — increasing by 54 in 24 hours.

Montreal remains the most affected region with 81 schools having at least one case of COVID-19. The Quebec City area has 41, Montérégie has 38, Laval 24 and the Outaouais has seven.

The list is not complete, the government says, as some schools are undergoing audits.

As for the rest of the province, there were 297 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death reported Friday.

Some worry substitutes will worsen situation

Wit the situation appearing to worsen, some substitute teachers fear they will become vectors of COVID-19 as they move between schools.

Amélie Beaulieu says she has filled in for teachers at seven schools since the year's start.

"There are regularly situations where teachers are absent as they are waiting for results," she told Radio-Canada.

And even though she wears a mask on the job, Beaulieu worries substitutes like her will create a situation like that seen in long-term care homes and hospitals this spring.

Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge says it is a mistake to compare health-care workers to substitute teachers when it comes to spreading the disease. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Staff moving between health facilities or even between hot and cold zones in hospitals did lead to outbreaks.

After witnessing the tragic results of migrating health staff, Beaulieu isn't the only one who is worried.

"We do not want to repeat what happened in the spring in the health network," said
Marc-Étienne Deslauriers, a parents' committee member in Montreal.

"If people move, we have to make sure that all the conditions, the sanitary measures, are respected."

Catherine Beauvais-St-Pierre, of the Alliance des professors de Montréal, said teachers see more than students as they change schools. They bump into other adults as well.

"It is worrying for these teachers and it is also worrying for the spread of the disease from one establishment to another," she said.

Roberge says substitute teachers aren't a risk

Neither public health nor the workplace safety board (CNESST) have enacted specific measures concerning the movement of substitutes between schools.

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said substitute teachers are not the same as health-care workers and it is a mistake to make the comparison.

Employees of long-term care homes or hospitals must get close to residents and patients, he said.

"That's nothing like a Secondary III math teacher who moves from one school to another, but who has no direct contact with students, who stays two metres from students and who rubs shoulders with students who are more than 99.5 per cent negative [for] COVID-19," he said.

With files from Radio-Canada

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