Pregnant teachers consider hiding their pregnancy

Pregnant teachers consider hiding their pregnancy

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Pregnant teachers fear reporting their pregnancy and being reassigned “anywhere, anyhow” by their school service center due to staff shortages.< /p>

“Some people said: ''I'm pregnant, but I don't want to say it,''” reports Nancie Lafond, president of the Syndicat de l'enseignement des Bois-Francs.

“Me, as a woman, it shook me [to hear that]. We're backing up,” she said.

Like all pregnant women, teachers have the right to request a medical certificate to be removed from their workplace if it poses risks to their pregnancy, according to the standards of the Standards, Equity, health and safety at work (CNESST).

The classic case is that of a woman who must avoid contracting Covid-19 or the 5th disease while teaching primary school with young people who regularly cuddle him.

With the pandemic and the shortage of staff, several school service centers (CSS) have begun to reassign these teachers to other teaching tasks presenting less risk.

“Reassignments, we do not hardly ever saw that before,” notes Josée Scalabrini, president of the Federation of Teachers' Unions (FSE).

“There, we send them anywhere, anyhow,” summarizes Ms. Scalabrini.

Josée Scalabrini, President of the Federation of Teachers' Unions (FSE)

Judgment

A judgment of the Administrative Labor Tribunal handed down in July also ruled in favor of a CSS who had reassigned two primary school teachers to secondary school (see other text below).

However, primary school teachers do not necessarily have experience with teenagers and are not specialists in any particular subject. They do not have the same university education as those in secondary school. “There is no common core,” recalls Ms. Lafond.

“We leave them to themselves, as if it were a mistake to be pregnant”, abounds Richard Bergevin, president of the Syndicat de l'enseignement de l'Estrie.

Judgments of work

In several cases, the reassignment led to a work stoppage.

He gives the example of a woman who taught social integration to severely handicapped students from general education to adults. Due to the risk of being beaten, it was withdrawn… to be sent to French in secondary school.

“We didn't think we were putting it in an impossible context,” explains Martial Gaudreau, director general of the CSS des Hauts-Cantons, where this example happened. He recalls that the support of an educational adviser was provided.

Besides, most of the reassignments go off without a hitch, he notes.

But according to the unions, support is often lacking, which amounts to placing these teachers in a situation of incompetence.

Sent to secondary school at the last minute

A pregnant teacher may have tried everything to adapt to high school, but her reassignment still ended in a work stoppage, reveals a recent judgment.

Léa Provencher is part of of the two teachers whose cases are described in a judgment rendered by the Administrative Labor Tribunal in July.

In the fall of 2021, she was an elementary school teacher at the CSS des Bois-Francs.

On Friday, the future mother learns that she must teach French in secondary school the following Monday.

“We expected her to learn the program in a weekend, whereas at the bacc, we have four years to learn it,” says union representative Nancie Lafond.

Last minute

Ms. Provencher then decides to roll up her sleeves. “Efficient and autonomous, [she] does most of the steps without help, including understanding the program, preparing for her classes, choosing required readings and correcting,” reports the court.

“ She quickly exhausted herself, consulted a doctor and obtained a leave related to her psychological health,” reads the judgment.

The court nevertheless ruled in favor of the CSS. “Nothing in the law prohibits a primary school teacher, with a teaching certificate, from performing a secondary replacement.”

“Besides, some do it voluntarily,” recalls Judge Daniel Therrien.

The judge concluded that the teachers were “reasonably” able to perform the duties of the assignment, “even if the situation is not ideal”.

“Unusual” shortage< /strong>

The judge then explained that the CSS des Bois-Francs demonstrated that it was facing an “unusual” labor shortage.

Contacted by Le Journal, the CSS des Bois-Francs indicates by email that its objective is “to offer the best service to students”.

“A qualified primary French teacher will have more skills to teach French in secondary school than an unqualified person,” explains Manon Samson, communications advisor, by email.

Le CSS des Bois-Francs however, has not made use of this option since the start of the current school year.

Movement of panic

For Josée Scalabrini of the FSE, this judgment risks creating “inconsistencies” and “panicism”.

Result: many already prefer to put their pregnancy at risk and continue to teach in their class rather than run the risk of being reassigned.

The unions emphasize, however, that it is not because they want to reassign problematic pregnant teachers, but rather how these cases are handled.  

For example, a kindergarten or 1st grade teacher will probably be in her element if she is reassigned to a 5th grade class, since she has been trained for all levels of the primary.  

“But when there is too big a gap [between the original task and the reassignment], it's not a good idea”, sums up Dominic Loubier of the Syndicat de l'enseignement de la Chaudière.

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