The President of The Manitoba Teacher's Society (MTS) says students are running out of time as the Education Minister is "passing the buck" when it comes to making school public health decisions.
MTS President James Bedford says he is disappointed with the two-week remote learning period plan put forward by the province.
"This is yet another half measure approach and I fail to see how this plan enhances the safety of students and teachers when half the grades are in school for those two weeks,” Bedford says in a written statement.
Bedford says that he does support the move to prevent an instruction interruption. He says MTS put forward the idea for schools to go "Code Red" for two weeks. Instead, the province is moving online.
“Teachers and other staff are also members of the community and not immune to the holiday gathering transmission the province is trying to minimize.”
He is also asking for the province to require all students to wear a mask, if possible.
“Saying that schools are safe is no longer good enough. We want proof and in the absence of proof common sense and best practice should prevail.”
He says teachers are struggling with a heavy workload. The optional move to remote for Kindergarten to Grade 6 will create even more work for instructors to shoulder.
“Teachers are burning out. This is a fact. We see it reflected in the high numbers of members accessing our counselling services and our disability and benefits plan,” Bedford says. “This plan places unreasonable demands on teachers and runs the risk of collapsing the entire education system when teachers buckle under the pressure.”
The Education Minister, Kelvin Goertzen says the Provincial Remote Learning Support Centre will aid teachers but has not hired a full set of staff yet. Bedford says the province has hired 20 of the 140 staff required.
"With the break approaching, we are quickly running out of time.”