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An Open Letter to Dr. Arruda and Premier Legault – In You I Trust…ed.

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.

Until today.

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.

Tanya Toledano

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  1. Much more gracious than I would have been, but you’ve hit the nail square on the head. I’m with you all the way.

    • Yup I feel the same way, I have my dad staying with me and he cant catch it , so what does it mean for my daughter , we cant afford to bring it home where we share the same space! Im still undecided what I will do.

      • I’m a TEACHER of kindergarten students. I live with parents who are 80 years old as a caregiver and I have a few health issues myself. This “plan” is terrifying!!!! I don’t have any options to keep my parents safe other than quitting, which is NOT an option. I WANT to return to work but I want to do so SAFELY!
        Thank you Tanya for your voice!

  2. You are BRILLIANT!!!! and couldn’t agree with you more. I hope they listen to you.

  3. As a very concerned grandmother, I couldn’t agree with you more. My daughter has been keeping her children from playing in parks, keeping the required social distancing. All of this because, they have asthma, get silent pneumonia easily. I have my 92 mother living with us, which means that when school starts up, and my daughter has appointments or I have to see the dr., she will no longer be able to help me out. We cannot afford having this virus in our home and killing my mum. The way it is set up now, nobody knows where the other children have been. The quebec government really let the children down.

  4. Sadly – the govt is doing what they think is right. And as for this: ” 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.” – shameful that the rich should have privileges the middle class and poor cannot 🙁

  5. Spot on! Totally agree with every single word! Exactly how most parents and grandparents feel…❤️

  6. Wholeheartedly agree with you! You have my support.

  7. On the same day, the World Health Organisation advised all government leaders to do everything in their power to suffocate the virus. Canadian Public Health authorities strongly suggest reducing class sizes. The CDC announces a 90% increase of Covid cases in children during July. The science suggests multiple long- term effects from Covid in a surprising number of recovered individuals.

    Our government has decided that children and their parents (generally in their 30s and 40s) are good candidates for the elusive Herd Immunity plan. We are mere subjects in a social experiment. The value of Human lives and quality of life are clearly more important in Ontario (or just about everywhere else in the world!)

    Arruda has been cherry- picking the research data to support his decisions from the start (mask fiasco!). Many of his decisions have been perplexing, to say the least, for those of us who read the research papers. First, do not harm, Doctor Arruda. First, do not harm!

  8. My exact thoughts.

  9. Very well written, Tanya!
    I agree that schools should offer distance learning without doctor’s note to all families that have members with compromised immune system and at high risks, as well to those who can afford it in order to reduce the amount of kids attending schools. However, I would not agree to oblige kids to wear the mask all day long.

  10. Beautifully written and well said. Might I also suggest that you send this to the Gazette, the Suburban, The TMR Post and other English newspapers? It would broaden the audience. Your message is important. It’s clear and honest and I believe many parents feel the same way. Thank you.

  11. I couldn’t agree with you more! I was so angry yesterday and just couldn’t put my feelings into words without sounding like an overprotective, paranoid crazy mother. But you truly said EVERYTHING that is in my heart. I have 3 children, the oldest going into secondary 3, my middle one going into grade 5 and my youngest who is going into grade 2. My youngest has type 1 diabetes and has to go several times a day to check his blood by the secretary. This scares me terribly because we are dealing with blood and exposure to whatever is in the air at the time that he’s being checked. I know doctors say that there are no significant risks for children with type 1 diabetes because their immune systems aren’t compromised but I believe otherwise. If there are droplets of Covid 19 in the air who’s to say that it cannot get through when the skin is broken because of the poke? My son had to get warts burned off because the doctor said that due to his constant finger poking bacteria had gotten through therefore making him more susceptible to warts. If warts can get in who’s to say that the COVID-19 virus cannot get in? I believe that parents should be given the option and the right to choose between on line schooling and physical schooling. There are many fears in this world but this one takes the cake. We as parents have taken the responsibility as soon as we became parents to protect our children in a manner that we see fit and they are taking this right away from us. My kids are bitter sweet about starting school. They want to go to see their friends and teachers but are fearful of what the new normal at school will be. They will kinda be in a prison/cult environment where they will have to stay with the same group of children even though their friends might be in different groups. Forcing upon them who they should speak to and play with. Just not human nature.
    On another note, they are saying that if no one at the home address has a compromised immune system their children must go to school. They haven’t taken into account that some people (like myself) have an elderly parent which whom needs to be looked after but doesn’t live in the same house. Or a parent’s immune system might be compromised without their knowledge. Some are waiting for test results from a physical and don’t know if they’re sick or not but in the meantime their children are going to school and potentially bringing home the virus. What then? There are a million scenarios out there and I know that they can’t address all of them. The only thing I’m asking for is that parents should be given the right to choose the type of schooling that best fits their situation.

  12. Beautifully written spot on message. I agree you should send it to media outlets and broaden the readership. I hope you also sent individual copies to DrA and PM L

  13. I agree with giving the option of distance schooling. In regards to the masks, my understanding was that it can be removed only once sitting at their desk… of course I assume the desks are at least 2 metres apart !? Would like clarification on that.

  14. Bravo Tanya….well said….i will stand with you for sure as i am positive most parents will!!

  15. Very well said! They are just going backwards on what was said and asked from people. It seems they only want people to follow the rules as long as it is convenient for them. Please forward it to the news to get as many people who are concerned to see this.

  16. I am in full agreement of what you said. I am mom of three children which one has asma, and my husband has COPD. I am a diabetic and I also have breathing problems. I know I will be able to get a doctor’s letter. But I do feel for people that do not have the choice.

  17. I couldn’t have said this better, myself… I could have said it less diplomatically and angrier though. I am absolutely flabbergasted by what is going on in this province and how little concern the government is showing for our children. This saddens me.

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