Quebec’s new study guides create confusion: ‘No one knows what’s going on’

After the Quebec provincial government announced it won’t reopen schools until late in the summer amid the novel coronavirus health crisis, the province’s education ministry has begun rolling out education packages for students to follow at home.

But there are parents who say these study guides should have been provided a long time ago, saying distributing them now creates confusion for themselves and their children.

“I’m not the only one. I speak to parents every day who are at their wits’ end,” said Ashly Bernstein, a mother of three boys who attend Elizabeth Ballantyne Elementary.

“I think there’s confusion everywhere.”

Since Bernstein’s sons were forced to stay home when schools closed in mid-March because of COVID-19, she’s been getting them to do non-mandatory school activities at home but it’s been hard.

“Because we don’t know where they are, we don’t know what they’re supposed to be learning or what they’re supposed to be doing,” Bernstein explained.

Last week, the provincial government announced that unlike the rest of the province, schools in the greater Montreal area would remain closed because of the pandemic, cancelling plans to re-open May 25.

Starting on the weekend, some parents began getting more detailed study guides from schools along with plans for online classes.

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“Finally today we got a lot of information about if we’re going to do online classes — some teachers are doing them, some teachers aren’t doing them,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein added the details are still murky.

“No one knows what’s going on and … we have four weeks left of school here and then the teachers are off,” Bernstein said.

She blames the government and says trying to cram everything in at the last minute means the students will lose.

“I don’t blame the teachers,” the mother of two told Global News.

“Had the decision been made earlier on that there wasn’t going to be school, they could’ve been preparing this whole time.”

Quebec Premier François Legault says the challenge until now was that teachers, too, had to be at home and didn’t have time to help their students properly.

“Now with the opening of the daycare centres for the children, we’ll have more opportunity to make sure all teachers are available to have a follow-up with students that are at home,” Legault said during his daily press conference.

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) says the work isn’t mandatory.

“No student will be penalized for any work that’s going to be completed between now and the end of June, but they can benefit from it,” EMSB spokesperson Michael Cohen told Global News.

Cohen says that by doing the work, students who were failing now have the opportunity to pass.

Bernstein says she’s only going to focus on subjects that her kids are struggling with.

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