Quebec to present academic catch-up plan next week for students impacted by strikes

“They are super resilient,” says teacher Annie-Sara Lemieux McClure about her students coming back to school next week after strikes in the public sector. Quebec is set to present an “academic catch-up plan” Tuesday. Pamela Pagano reports.

By The Canadian Press & News Staff

Quebec intends to table an “academic catch-up plan” next week for students who missed several days of school due to strikes in the public sector during the fall.

The Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, indicated Thursday evening that he will present on January 9 a plan that was developed with various stakeholders in the school network.

“Several meetings throughout the holiday season, in the last few days and again today,” he mentioned in a statement. “School service centers, school principals, parent committees, unions, etc.”

“We are currently finalizing the plan,” said Drainville.

“I’m happy to come back to class but I’m really eager to know what’s in the plan for us,” said grade two teacher, Annie-Sara Lemieux McClure. “I hope it’s going to come with some help for the students, some help that’s going to stay in the school.”

Lemieux McClure says she wants the plan to include teachers’ input. She also wants the plan earlier, on Monday, the day before school starts to help teachers better prepare students.

“For sure they miss like a lot of stuff but I mean it’s going to be fine,” she said. “They are super resilient and well we are, too.”

The education sector was particularly affected by the days of walkouts that took place as part of negotiations between the Treasury Board and Quebec public service unions for the renewal of collective agreements.

The FAE, which represents approximately 66,500 primary and secondary teachers, or 40 per cent of teachers in the school network, held an indefinite strike for approximately a month. It shut down around 800 schools across the province.

The FAE announced last week the end of all its pressure tactics, including the indefinite strike, after reaching a proposed agreement in principle with the government.

FAE Teachers strike Montreal
FAE Teachers strike in front of Premier Legault’s Montreal office on Dec. 22, 2023. (Alyssia Rubertucci, CityNews Image)

The inter-union Common Front, which brings together the CSN, the CSQ, the APTS and the FTQ, also walked out at different times during the fall, leading to the closure of schools.

But how does time away from the classroom affect students?

“Out of a schedule, no routine, screen time has increased,” said Dr. Julie St-Pierre, a pediatrician with the McGill University Health Centre. “Studies are showing that if you keep this pace for two months and and above you will see learning disabilities appearing.”

Dr. Julie St-Pierre says studies conducted during the pandemic, when students stayed home for prolonged periods, have shown negative consequences on children.

Her advice: reduce screen time, junk food and set a routine.

“I really encourage all of them to go outside, eat better and this way we might have a better global health and a better future society,” she said.

Lemieux McClure also has children impacted by the strikes. Her daughter Raphaëlle in second grade says she misses school and her friends. “I’m looking forward to seeing my teachers,” she said.

Her mother is also looking forward to seeing her students.

“I miss them a lot,” she said. “I’m guessing on Tuesday it’s going to be cuddle and crying and catch up and then we’re going to do some learning.”

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