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Controversy Surrounds Quebec’s Education Ministry Directive on Solar Eclipse Activities

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Controversy Surrounds Quebec's Education Ministry Directive On Solar Eclipse Activities

Amidst preparations for the upcoming solar eclipse on April 8, the Quebec education system finds itself embroiled in controversy over the directives issued by the Ministry of Education. Former politician Bernard Drainville has criticized the Ministry, stating that the guidelines should have emphasized the encouragement of supervised and secure outdoor activities during the celestial event.

Initially, some schools opted to cancel their eclipse observation activities, citing Quebec’s stringent directives as the reason. However, Drainville took to social media to urge schools to proceed with their planned activities on the designated date, despite the Ministry’s initial guidelines.

A directive sent out by Quebec at the end of February suggested schools engage in observation activities but advised against outdoor activities during the eclipse window from 2:11 PM to 4:45 PM.

Following the backlash, the Education Ministry issued a clarification on Monday, with Stéphanie Vachon, the Deputy Minister, emphasizing the importance of conducting both indoor and outdoor scientific activities during the eclipse period, as long as student safety measures are in place.

In a public letter published in Le Journal de Montréal, astronomer Pierre Chastenay and Camille Turcotte, the General Director of the Association for the Teaching of Science and Technology in Quebec, criticized the government’s perceived excessive caution regarding the eclipse. They highlighted the detrimental impact of the delayed and alarmist communication on educational initiatives planned eagerly by educational stakeholders.

Several school boards, including those in Montréal, have declared April 8 a pedagogical day, with varying activities planned for students while the eclipse occurs. Some schools have opted for indoor alternatives like watching a movie in the gymnasium during the celestial event to ensure safety and compliance with the Ministry’s directives.

Rachel Adams

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