Quebec elementary schools and daycares will gradually reopen in May as the province looks to ease its restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Premier François Legault said on Monday the return to classes will begin in regions outside of Montreal, which are less affected by COVID-19, on May 11. In the Greater Montreal area, the date is May 19.
Legault added that the government is open to changing the dates and plan if the situation worsens in Quebec.
“We will continue to follow the situation to see if the situation stays under control,” said Legault.
Legault said that the COVID-19 infection rate in the province’s hospitals is under control and the virus is generally not dangerous to young children.
However, he stressed that attendance is not mandatory and that parents may keep their children home if they would rather not send them back to school.
Under the plan, high schools, universities and CEGEPs will not reopen until August or September, when the new academic year begins. Legault urged those institutions to undertake online teaching where possible.
The strategy comes as Quebec reported more than 800 new cases of Monday, bringing the province’s total number of infections to 24,982.
The respiratory illness has killed 1,599 people to date. The majority of deaths have originated in long-term care homes, which are facing outbreaks and staffing shortages.
Quebec’s progressive restart comes as schools and businesses have been on lockdown for more than a month. They were closed in March in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.
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— With files from the Canadian Press
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