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An empty schoolyard in Montreal on Nov. 12, 2020.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Quebec won’t impose mandatory vaccination on the education sector as the epidemiological situation is improving in the province and vaccination rates in the sector are high, the Health Department said Wednesday.

In a news release, the department said 90 per cent of staff working in preschool, elementary and high schools are adequately vaccinated. In colleges and universities, 92 per cent of staff are adequately vaccinated.

“The excellent vaccine coverage of the student population also helps make campuses safe environments,” the department said. “In fact, 90 per cent of college students and 92 per cent of university students are adequately protected against COVID-19.”

While vaccination is recommended, it won’t be made compulsory in the network.

Quebec officials have been monitoring the pandemic situation since the return to school last month and said outbreaks in schools have been kept under control, with 234 outbreaks currently reported in education settings.

Elementary school students in some regions are required to wear a medical-grade mask and rapid tests have been deployed across the province. Public health officials are also getting ready to vaccinate children aged five to 11 once federal officials approve vaccination for this age bracket.

Health-care workers

A legal challenge to Quebec’s vaccination mandate for health-care workers is being heard in Quebec Superior Court.

The provincial government is threatening to suspend unvaccinated health network staff as of Nov. 15, but Premier François Legault raised the possibility this week of postponing the deadline. It has already been pushed back once after initially being set for Oct. 15.

Superior Court Justice Michel Yergeau began hearing arguments for an injunction Wednesday and said he will render a decision on Nov. 15, regardless of what the government decides. Unvaccinated health-care workers are seeking to have the vaccination edict delayed until their full legal challenge is heard.

A lawyer representing unvaccinated employees opened today’s pleadings, saying the government is legally obliged to ensure the protection of the population and “protect, maintain and improve” health services.

Natalia Manole argued the government’s decision to postpone an initial deadline of Oct. 15, citing concerns about an interruption in service, shows that applying the decree would do more harm than good for the population.

Quebec’s COVID-19 numbers

The province is reporting 478 new COVID-19 cases today, along with four more deaths related to the virus.

Health officials say hospitalizations fell by two to 257, while the number of patients in intensive care remains steady at 66.

The province says it vaccinated 10,021 people on Tuesday.

The province’s public health institute says about 90.5 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and older have received at least one dose, while 87.7 per cent are considered fully vaccinated with two shots.

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.