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Cegeps and universities | Back to school on January 17, but distance learning allowed until the 31st

As with elementary and secondary schools, Quebec expects CEGEP and university students to return to campuses starting Jan. 17, but is allowing them to remain in distance learning until the end of the month. However, uncertainty persists for many students and teachers.

Posted on January 7th

Marie-Eve Morasse

Marie-Eve Morasse
Press

The Ministry of Higher Education reiterated this on Friday in a message sent to CEGEP and universities: “in accordance with the recommendations of the Ministry of Public Health, everyone will be able to be in the classroom on January 17.

But like universities that have already announced they are delaying their return to school for several weeks (University of Montreal and Laval University, among others), the government is planning higher education institutions that want a “transition period” that will allow them to stay in distance learning at the latest until January 31.

This ministerial slogan does not take anything away from the complexity of the situation in CEGEP, says Lucie Piché, president of the Federation of CEGEP Teachers (FEC-CSQ). There is “uncertainty” among the teachers as they prepare for their meeting.

We are in the same situation as the network of schools: no matter how much they tell us to prepare for January 17, people have a hard time believing it because there is an explosion of cases of COVID-19.

Lucie Piché, president of the Federation of Cegepa Teachers

Quebec Collegiate Student Federation (FECQ) president Samuel Vaillancourt believes it’s time for Minister Danielle McCann to speak to students.

“At the moment we are told that it will be like last autumn, but we can see that it is not adapted to the number of cases that we see on a daily basis. It is very disturbing. How do we make campuses safer than they were last semester? asks Mr. Vaillancourt, who expects “concrete” announcements.

The government could take advantage of CEGEP students’ “very strong support” for vaccination and offer a third dose on campus or even distribute rapid tests to students, he suggests. Like a good portion of the population, most of them don’t have any in hand.

A few days before the start of the school year, teachers also have “pragmatic considerations, such as the third dose and quick tests”, says Lucie Piché.

“Few and controlled” outbreaks

The Ministry of Higher Education says it has no plans to introduce a vaccination pass for attending CEGEP classes and universities, recalling that there were “few and controlled” outbreaks at these institutions last fall.

It’s true, says Samuel Vaillancourt, but the contagiousness of the Omicron variant is a game-changer. What is planned for students who will have to self-isolate in large numbers for 5 or 10 days due to symptoms? Did we plan something for them? asks the president of FECQ.

We want to avoid putting pressure on a student who has symptoms or who is waiting for a test to go to their campus.

Samuel Vaillancourt, president of the Quebec Collegiate Student Federation

The start date varies depending on the CEGEP in the province, but most will welcome their students by January 24 at the latest.

If the Fédération des cégeps indicated that Press that “CEGEPs are preparing to resume presence” as planned, the Regroupement des cégeps de Montréal notes that those scheduled to start on January 17 plan to do so remotely.

“CEGEPs and Montreal universities meet regularly with the Montreal Regional Public Health Department. The last meeting took place on Wednesday. In two weeks we will have another one,” said Nathalie Vallée, president of the Regroupement des cégeps de Montreal. These meetings, she says, allow us to discuss case management at the facilities.

Some CEGEPs have already informed their community that a “backup plan” could be quickly activated to allow a return to school remotely first. This is the case at Cégep de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, where the start of the school year is scheduled for January 24. At the Cégep de Sherbrooke, we are preparing to return to the present from January 17.

Anyway, some students couldn’t handle the uncertainty caused by this new wave of COVID-19. Faced with the fear of a new meeting that would be completely remote, some have already decided to cancel their courses, we tell FECQ.

48

Number of public CEGEPs in Quebec

175,000

Number of CEGEP students in regular education

Source: CEGEPs Federation

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