Community / Press Release

EMSB responds to government directive on high school attendance

group of kids wearing mask in class
Montreal - Thursday, April 1, 2021

In response to the directive from the Quebec Ministry of Education that students in Secondary III, IV and V were  to return to school full-time as of Monday in red zones, the English Montreal School Board, after having carefully assessed the situation in each high school, has agreed to go forward with this plan where possible.

This is consistent with the statement from the EMSB last week when it was decided to stagger the return to school for the grades affected by this new directive and allow for the schools to properly plan and prepare for the full-time integration of secondary students in EMSB buildings and allow the Board to take into consideration the specificities of each school. All EMSB Secondary III students are now back in class. As of Tuesday, April 6, this will be expanded to 16 other high schools in the system. However, six schools, which were programmed with a hybrid model for Secondary IV and V students, will continue to follow that path through the end of the academic year. At the start of year the Ministry of Education offered two options to schools for Secondary IV and V students in their Plan de la rentrée 2020. These two options presented by the Ministry were to either maintain closed groups (bubbles) all day or use a hybrid model and offer some online instruction to a maximum of 50 percent of the time essential optional courses to be offered. This was the path chosen by these six schools.

“Please rest assured that the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and community remains our top priority,” the EMSB stated in a letter being sent to parents and guardians. 

The EMSB Council of Commissioners has also adopted a resolution supporting this procedure. “Bringing all Secondary IV and V students back in the  current model would not respect the Public Health Department measures recommending bubbles or social distancing to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and thus protect the health of all staff members, students and their families,”  stated EMSB Chair Joe Ortona. “Restructuring the school at this time of year and creating new groups is not in line with recommendations from Public Health.

“It is important to explain that some of our schools’ master timetables and teacher workloads were created based on the hybrid option,” added Mr. Ortona.  “Changing from this model at this time of the year would involve having to make changes to student courses and this could have an impact on the Secondary IV and V students’ ability to earn much needed credits towards graduation. The educational success of students, which includes earning credits at the senior high school level, must also be considered.”

Mr. Ortona said that the EMSB is not taking a position against the government. “Most of our high schools will indeed return to full-time attendance, after careful review from the administration that all the health and safety protocols in effect can be respected” he said. “We know that student mental health and connections with peers and teachers remain important and we have and will continue to take whatever measures necessary to ensure that students with emotional or physical needs will be met.”

About the English Montreal School Board

With a youth and adult sector population of more than 37,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines. Our network consists of 77 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at