Sunday, July 5, 2020
Manitoba students will head back to classes on Sept. 8- ASL VLOG coming soon
Students in Manitoba will return to classes on Sept. 8 — nearly six months after they last had a regular school day. Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen took to Twitter on Monday to announce that teachers and staff will be asked to return to schools on Sept. 2 and students will follow about a week later. The earlier return for staff will provide them with time to get their heads around new health protocols and to prepare spaces with proper distancing. It will also enable them to come up with ways to help those students who need some learning recovery, Goertzen said. "As expected, the experience with at home learning has been difficult for many. While there will be a need for supplemental learning opportunities for many students in the next school year, the desire was that it be accommodated within the school year," he posted. Brian O'Leary, superintendent of Seven Oaks School Division in Winnipeg, said it's welcome news. "Schools aren't schools without kids," he said. "I think lots of parents, lots of kids and lots of teachers are kind of Zoomed out at this point." In an online statement, the president James Bedford of the Manitoba Teachers Society said the union is pleased for a post-Labour day return, but also frustrated that teachers will be losing out on mandated non-instructional days. Bedford said teachers and staff will be expected to report to work for three non-instructional days to prepare for the school year, which reduces the number of remaining professional development or administrative days from ten to seven. "If there ever was a year where the importance of professional development days is crucial it is this one," he said. "This move devalues teachers and is very disappointing." The NDP Critic for Education Nello Altomare said the uncertainty of returning to classrooms has caused stress for teachers, parents and students. Altomare criticized the premier and education minister of refusing to offer support to teachers and educators by laying off thousands of workers and slashing professional development time and other resources for them. Survey seeks input from Manitobans on reopening schools to students Teachers, divisions working toward safe return of some Manitoba students this school year Radean Carter, a spokesperson for the Winnipeg School Division said while the news comes as a relief, there are still many details to be worked out based on how COVID-19 rates evolve over the next few months. "We are looking at a number of different scenarios that might play out for September," she said. "It could be all in class, truly it could be all home learning, it could be a combination," she said. "It's like a big jigsaw puzzle that we're working on." Students walked out of their schools on March 23, when the government initially suspended classes a week ahead of the scheduled start of spring break. The holiday was also extended for another week beyond its original scheduled ending. At the time, Goertzen said he hoped it would help against the spread of the COVID-19, as governments were beginning to shut down places that supported large gatherings. When it became clear that COVID-19 was going to last much longer, in-class learning was cancelled indefinitely by March 31. Teachers continued to assign work, conduct assessments and engage with students online. But not everyone had the ability to do that from home, so the province said no one's grades would decrease from where they were when classes were suspended. Students who wanted and were able to continue with school could use the opportunity to improve their grades. No recess? Manitoba schools planning for new reality in fall, if they're even able to reopen Manitoba K-12 schools close indefinitely due to COVID-19 Premier Brian Pallister had hinted earlier this year that schools could potentially reopen to resume in-class learning as early as Aug. 31. To gauge the comfort level of parents and guardians in sending their children back to class, the province undertook an online survey that covered a range of scenarios including the use of masks, hand sanitizer and bus transportation. It was based on that feedback that the province decided to reopen classes as they traditionally have, after the Labour Day long weekend, Goertzen tweeted. Schools were allowed to reopen as of June 1 but it was on an extremely restricted basis. Appointments had to be made for one-on-one instruction, assessments, counselling or other limited programming requested by a student. O'Leary said the return of students on a limited basis this June has been smooth and there have been no cases of virus-transmission among staff or students. It's his hope all students can return full-time in the fall but he expects there may still be components of remote learning, particularly for older students, he said. "We're looking at being maybe not quite normal, but a lot closer to normal, in September and we think kids need that and we think our schools are going to be ready for that," he said. Both O'Leary and Carter added bus transportation is one item that still needs to be worked out, as buses cannot currently run at full capacity. More details on the full school reopening plan will be announced soon, Goertzen posted.