May 11, 2020 / 3:59 PM / 14 days ago

In Canada's Quebec province, deconfinement takes baby steps with schools re-opening

NEW YORK, May 11 (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Quebec, where a majority of cases of COVID-19 countrywide have been tallied, re-opened some of its schools on Monday, as some parents and teachers expressed uncertainty over the move’s safety.

Elementary schools and kindergardens gradually re-opened outside of Montreal, Quebec’s largest city, with strict instructions from authorities to maintain social distancing intended to alleviate worries among teachers about risks to their health.

Quebec makes up 24% of the Canadian population, but it accounts for nearly 55% of COVID-19 cases and nearly 60% of the deaths. Canada has so far reported 69,156 cases of COVID-19, and 4,906 deaths.

Most Quebec cases have occurred in seniors’ residences and among the elderly, with denser Montreal, where schools were not re-opening on Monday, also a hotspot for the spread of the coronavirus.

At Ecole St-Gerard in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, a suburb of Montreal, principal Solange Lemoy said a first group of 50 of the total 280 registered students entered the building in the morning, with staff wearing visors and using hand sanitizer. About half of parents have told her they will not send their children back to this school immediately. (Reporting by Sebastien Malo; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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