Online Education

“Distance education is not taken into account” despite the disagreement about school transport

The stalemate in negotiations between Quebec and yellow bus operators is causing headaches for school principals trying to avoid service disruptions with the start of the school year in two weeks. According to what Obligation has learned, virtual education for students deprived of transport is one of the options discussed in recent days, but Minister Jean-François Roberge rules out this last solution.

“When it comes to the school bus situation, distance learning is not considered,” says Audrey Noiseux, press secretary for the minister of education.

Our sources say that virtual education is one of the scenarios being discussed between the Fédération des centers de services scolaire du Québec and the Ministry of Education – as all possible solutions need to be carefully considered. However, the school community is not enthusiastic about this possible way out of the crisis, which is far from optimal for returning to the classroom.

It’s one to midnight. We can make money as usual, but we need a quick solution to take the stress out of the beginning of the school year.

“It’s one of many solutions, but ideally young people should be in the classroom,” says Carl Ouellet, president of the Quebec Association of School Management Employees.

“It’s one to midnight. We can fold ten cents, as usual, but we need a quick solution to remove some stress at the beginning of the school year,” adds a representative of 700 school principals from 12 service centers.

Obligation announced Thursday that negotiations between Quebec and school transporters remain fruitless. The bus operators’ federation is demanding bonuses estimated at 20% to 25% of contracts due to significant increases in petrol, vehicle maintenance and purchase costs, as well as labour.

Avoid virtual school

School service centers are warning parents to have a plan B for transporting their children back to school. Distance learning does not inspire any enthusiasm. Receiving children entering school, especially in kindergarten or first grade, is difficult to imagine in a virtual way, underlines Carl Ouellet.

Other types of students — the disabled, those with adjustment or learning disabilities, or even newcomers — would suffer greatly from a virtual return to school, says Kathleen Legault, president of the Montreal Association of Principals of Schools (AMDES). In Montreal, these vulnerable students most often use the yellow bus because they often attend specialized classes or reception classes outside their neighbourhood. “These are also the students who respond least well to online instruction,” explains Kathleen Legault.

“I don’t think online education is something that should be prioritized. We absolutely have to find another solution,” adds AMDES president.

The Federation of School Service Centers said on Thursday that managers were “currently analyzing possible solutions to welcome students at the start of the school year”, without “saying more at this time”.

Ongoing negotiations

Jean-François Roberge’s cabinet on Friday reiterated its “confidence” in the ongoing negotiation process. “We will do everything we can to ensure school transport for all students at the beginning of the school year,” said the minister’s spokesman.

He recalls that Quebec allocated 30 million per year for bonuses aimed at attracting and retaining bus and sedan drivers. The additional funding measures provided by the government represent a 30.5 per cent increase in school transport allowances, amounting to more than 200 million since 2017.

“Discussions with school bus operators are continuing and financial measures have been added to take into account each of the issues related to the negotiations,” he adds.

See in the video

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button