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Quebec Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 27, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City.Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Quebec’s Education Minister is telling the province’s English-language school boards that they don’t have the right to refuse to reopen their elementary schools amid concern over COVID-19.

Jean-Francois Roberge’s office says in an e-mail that the government has the exclusive legal jurisdiction when it comes to deciding when the school year resumes after a pause brought on by the global pandemic.

Last week, the province’s English-language school boards association signalled to the minister that they would reopen “if and when” they believed the situation to be safe, regardless of the government’s schedule.

While high schools are closed for the remainder of the school year, most elementary schools and daycares are scheduled to reopen May 11, with those in hard-hit Montreal set to follow a week later.

The government says classes will be limited to 15 students, and no parent will be required to send their child if they’re not comfortable doing so.

Mr. Roberge says the decision to open will be made by public health officials, who could decide to push back the opening dates if the situation warrants.

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