MONTREAL — Many junior colleges across Quebec reopened for full-time, in-person learning on Monday for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Returning students at Montreal's English-language Dawson College said that following strict health orders — including to wear masks while seated inside classrooms — was worth it to see friends in class again.
"This was very welcomed and encouraged by the student union because, as the largest college in the province, that was a necessary measure," student union president Alexandrah Cardona said in an interview about the mask mandate.
Dawson College spokesperson Christina Parsons said the energy on campus Monday was incomparable to what she referred to as last year's "ghost town."
"This place is buzzing like it hasn’t in a very long time," Parsons said in an interview. "So it’s a happy day. This is a place for learning and being together."
Parsons said she is trying to stay optimistic despite the fact the province has entered a fourth wave of the novel coronavirus. She said a student survey indicated more than 8,000 Dawson College students had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — which is almost the entire student body.
Meanwhile, Quebec reported 376 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and one more death attributed to the novel coronavirus. The Health Department, which no longer reports on weekends, said another 1,026 infections were identified on Friday and Saturday. Officials said hospitalizations rose by 12 since their last report on Friday, to 99, and 31 people were in intensive care, a rise of one.
The province said 26,630 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered on Sunday. Officials said 78.2 per cent of Quebecers 12 and older are considered adequately vaccinated.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 23, 2021.
Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press