Quebec junior college students have 'reduced ability to study' post-COVID: union head

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MONTREAL — The head of a union representing Quebec junior college teachers says the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have negatively impacted students' basic study skills.

Youri Blanchet of the Fédération de l’enseignement collégial says teachers are noticing that students seem to be struggling with tasks such as taking notes, paying attention in class and completing assignments.

Blanchet says the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close for weeks at a time and shifted education online, which he says led educators to lower academic standards.

He says schools were also reluctant to assign too much schoolwork or to fail students, leading to some students being awarded diplomas without having met pre-pandemic standards.

He's urging the Quebec government to meet with colleges to develop a plan to address the pandemic-related learning gaps and help students develop academic skills.

Blanchet and other union leaders also say they need the government to help address labour shortages in the junior college system, which they say involves both teachers and specialized staff, such as psychologists.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2022.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press