Dear Dr. Arruda and Premier Legault,
Please allow me to begin by saying thank you for all that you have done since the beginning of this pandemic. You should know that I expressed gratitude for you almost daily. Some of your press conferences brought me to tears. I worried for both of you and whether or not YOU were sleeping enough (true story). I revelled at the way you led with strength, integrity, sensitivity and even humour. I admired your teamwork. You should know that I stood up for both of you when others doubted your actions and intentions. I did so privately in phone calls, emails and text messages. I also did so publicly on my website and when I was interviewed by CJAD radio.
And today, you have both let me down. You have let many Quebecers down.
While the announcement itself came from Minister Roberge, I am not addressing this letter to him because I haven’t developed any form of trust in him over the course of this pandemic.
In you, however, I trusted.
In you, I trusted to do the right thing.
In you, I trusted to protect Quebecers at all costs.
In you I believed.
Dr. Arruda: I admired how you always balanced the public health concerns of Covid-19 with the public health concerns of mental well-being, of domestic abuse and even those of family politics …thus choosing to go with the 10 person gathering approach as opposed to the family bubble approach. I loved the way you ‘stuck to your guns’, but with a smile on your face.
I cheered you both on with so many hearts and thumbs-up as I watched you on CityNews Montreal’s Facebook page that the screen looked like confetti was hitting it.
I understood why your position on masking changed.
I understood why you had to begin opening the economy even when it felt ‘too soon’.
I understood why you were doing what you were doing.
Today I learned that not only will schools be opened, but that masks in the classroom will not be required and that there will be no physical distancing. You have expanded from bubbles of six to bubbles of however many number of kids are in that classroom (20? 25?)
I don’t understand.
The bubbles of six announced back in June already concerned us because we do not know how the other five families have been living their lives….While some families adhere strictly to the guidelines, we are all too aware that many in our own social circles do not. We are very careful about who we get together with, even at a distance…and we have a rough idea of how closely they follow the guidelines. Imagine our children being in a bubble with zero distancing between them and five other children from families that we likely know zero about. These bubbles concerned us as parents.
Now, you are telling us that they will essentially be in a bubble with 20-25 others whom we also know nothing about.
Have you considered that if a family has three kids in three separate classes at school, they will essentially be ‘bubbling’ with 60-75 other families whose ‘guideline respecting habits’ they know nothing about?
And they won’t need to wear masks in the classroom….and they won’t be distanced….Why?
I cannot even begin to comprehend how you are making these recommendations which go against everything that you have taught us to do in our own homes as well as in public areas.
Your statements blow my mind…
Dr. Arruda: Did you really compare keeping a child home because of the pandemic to keeping them home with ‘a little cold’? If I heard you correctly, you said ‘Would we stop a child from going to school with a little cold with no fever? I don’t think so.’ I don’t even know what to say….
Did I actually hear Minister Roberge state that once in class, if kids want to wear masks and are comfortable, they can but that they don’t have to? Did he watch all of the same press conferences that I did, stating that masks do not protect the wearer but the others in the vicinity? How does this jive with the studies that tell us that in order for masking to work all parties present must be wearing masks? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????
I was pleased to see that you will be making an exception for children with health issues or who live with others who have health issues and that they will be eligible for online learning. What about children with parents who would like to avoid health issues for their children and for themselves?
Why not offer parents the choice of distance learning? Imagine if parents who can afford from a financial and /or time and/or mental health perspective to keep their children home to distance learn actually kept their kids home, then there would be less kids in the classroom rendering it safer for those whose parents need them to be in school because they do not have the flexibility to keep them home.
What is the reason that this is not an option?
You speak of the mental health of kids…yet so many kids are having anxiety about the return back to school…some even having nightmares. And I will add that I take offence to the suggestion that we are the ones making them anxious when all that we have been doing is teaching them and encouraging them to follow the guidelines that you have given us.
And what about the teachers? Are they the new front liners now? They did not sign up for this.
I am not an educator nor am I an expert in educational administration. I am simply a Mom who has paid attention to everything that you have been saying since the onset of this pandemic. I am also a Mom who is not afraid to tell you that what you are saying now does not make any sense if everything that you have been telling us to date has been true. And this time it is not because circumstances have changed so drastically.
You rationalize opening up events and festivals because people have learned to keep their distance and are masking- none of these things will be the case in the classroom setting – a limited enclosed, indoor space that will surely contain a gathering of more than 10 people for approximately 8 hours per day, with no masks and no distancing.
And yet we continue to limit our family gatherings to 10 people? Constantly reminding grandparents and cousins to remain at a 2-meter distance?
How can we reconcile the two?
I am going to end this letter here, because I now must use my time very wisely. I will use my time to connect with like-minded parents and we will band together to effect change. We will find a way to do what we feel is best for our families. We will request that our schools offer distance learning for those whose families can support it- WITHOUT a doctor’s note. This would leave schools with less students in the building, keeping everyone safer, and no doubt make parents who have no choice but to send their kids to school feel safer as well.
Should you have an explanation or clarification for my readers, myself and all Quebecers, I welcome it.
In the meantime, I asked that you please consider my words as carefully and as respectfully as I have considered yours over the past five months.