As the pandemic takes a mental toll on Quebec students, teachers are trying new ways to keep them learning
Teachers in Quebec are facing students wracked by stress and anxiety related to the pandemic, but they are also finding new ways of ensuring that learning still happens amid the upheaval.
Across the province, teachers at all grade levels are adapting their classrooms and lesson plans to a student body they say is more distracted and disruptive than ever before.
“We are seeing a lot more panic attacks this year, which is linked to the uncertainty the students are facing,” said Françis Sabourin, a psychoeducator at École Père-Marquette, a large public high school in Montreal.
Dozens of teachers provided similar descriptions of the mental health of their students to CBC Montreal last week.
The descriptions were among nearly 2,000 responses to a questionnaire that asked education professionals in Quebec about their working conditions.
The participants were granted anonymity. Their written statements offer a unique overview of how children have been faring since schools reopened two months ago.
“I’m seeing a lot of fragility (anxiety, ‘more frequent crying),” said a high school teacher in the Laurentians with more than 20 years’ experience.
A high school teacher in the Mauricie said: “The students are not ready to learn. They have cognitive overload.… Basic lessons take three to four times longer this year.”
On Wednesday, the Quebec government announced it was increasing funding for youth mental health services by $25 million.
“The increase in anxiety and psychological distress is an issue that greatly concerns me,” said Lionel Carmant, Quebec’s junior health minister.
One pedagogical expert in Montreal said he’s seen an increase in students having panic attacks.
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