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Quebec parents lose first round in legal fight for online classes amid pandemic

MONTREAL — A group of Quebec parents has lost the first round of a legal fight to force the province’s Education Department to provide an online learning option for all families who want it.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Frederic Bachand refused the parents’ request for a safeguard order that would have given parents immediate access to remote courses for their children as the case awaits trial.

In a decision released today, he wrote that while the parents did not meet the criteria for the temporary order, the case raises relevant legal questions that will be decided on their merits at a later date.

The parents are objecting to the province’s back-to-school plan, which mandates that only children with serious medical conditions or who live with someone at risk of severe complications from COVID-19 can be exempted from physically attending classes.

Human rights lawyer Julius Grey argued on their behalf that forcing parents to send their children to class during a pandemic violates their Charter rights to make fundamental decisions on their lives and security.

The lawyer representing the government countered that the province’s back-to-school rules are valid and that the benefits of attending school outweigh what the experts have described as a low risk of contagion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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