Students who have been learning online might have the chance to return to the classroom on a limited basis to wrap up the year.
The province is announcing the extension of online learning Thursday afternoon. The announcement includes schools in Winnipeg, Brandon, and the Garden Valley and Red River Valley school divisions.
“Extending remote learning as recommended by public health will protect students, families, teachers and staff as our COVID-19 case counts remain high and our health-care system is still under tremendous strain,” Education Minister Cliff Cullen says in a statement.
The schools in these four regions, and all others in Manitoba currently under remote learning, will, however, have the ability to reopen to small groups as of June 14, unless otherwise directed by public health to finish the year's assessments.
“We know the value of face-to-face instruction, and limited use for small groups of students will allow students and teachers to end the year on a stronger footing."
Beginning June 14, kindergarten to Grade 12 students learning remotely from home can be invited to schools during scheduled times for in-person support, clinical support, assessments and transition planning.
Schools will be required to follow public health guidance including:
• determining capacity limits to ensure two metres of physical distancing;
• maintaining cohorts;
• where possible, limiting the amount of time students spend in the facility;
• maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres;
• wearing masks, except while seated; and
• limiting gatherings between students.
“While our case counts are starting to move in the right direction, test positivity rates and the number of cases in hospital and ICU are still too high to broadly reopen schools in certain parts of the province,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer. “These changes will allow schools in remote learning to work with students and assess their progress while ensuring large numbers of people aren’t gathering.”
All other schools that have moved to remote learning based on individual assessments by public health officials will be assessed by public health before they reopen.
For schools remaining open in other parts of Manitoba, the following public health measures remain in place:
• schools with multiple cases (outside of same household cases) will be moved proactively to remote learning as per existing guidance;
• school officials can require students and/or staff who are showing symptoms to stay home for 10 days and encourage them to seek testing and household members without symptoms should also self-isolate (quarantine) until the sick individual’s test result is received;
• all extra-curricular activities, organized sports and off-site activities are suspended, except for physically distanced walks/runs in the local community;
• no indoor singing and no indoor use of wind instruments are allowed; and
• all other public health measures remain in effect.
The minister noted that schools wishing to host modified graduation ceremonies must adhere to the public health orders and guidelines in effect at the time the ceremonies take place.