Manitoba students will shift back to online learning on January 10 until January 17

Manitoba has announced students will take classes online after the extended holiday break, starting next Monday (Jan. 10).

Education Minister Cliff Cullen says remote learning will be for one week until January 17th, to give schools more time to prepare for situations such as possible staff shortages, absenteeism due to isolation requirements, and implement other measures to ensure students return to the classroom as soon as possible.

“This extra week of remote learning will provide time for distribution of additional masks and rapid tests to schools across the province,” Cullen added. “Access to rapid tests for all Manitobans will be expanded as the rapid testing kit supply increases here in Manitoba.”

In the coming days, more than 500-thousand rapid tests will be distributed to all schools for students in Kindergarten to Grade 6, as access to rapid tests is being expanded.

To meet increased demand and school supply, the province will also distribute at least 5 million more child and adult medical masks over the next 8 weeks.

When asked if an extra week is enough time, Premier Heather Stefanson said this is what education stakeholders asked for during conversations with Manitoba Education.

“This is about the education stakeholders asking for an extension to put the appropriate measures in place to ensure further safety for kids in-class learning.”

Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Jazz Atwal says this extension will also give them time to study the Omicron variant and how it impacts the health-care system.

Other measures will take effect next Monday. They include:

  • Effective Jan. 10, 2022, a phased-in approach will be applied to allow students of critical service workers in kindergarten to Grade 6 and all high-risk students and students with special learning needs in kindergarten to Grade 12 to attend school if no alternate care is available.
  • Effective Monday, Jan. 10, licensed centres and child-care homes will be able to apply for additional funding support to offset the loss of parent fees. This will include situations where a facility must reduce capacity due to staffing shortages or if a facility is required to close by public health officials due to COVID-19. Details on how to apply will be provided directly to facilities.

The Manitoba government is also investing up to $80 million in new funding for Manitoba schools during the 2021-22 school year to help address wage agreements for teachers and other cost pressures. Today’s announcement increases the total operating funding for education to close to $200 million for this school year alone.

The series of announcements come as the province reported 1,757 new cases of COVID-19 today (Tues), and a test positivity rate of nearly 40 percent.

Stefanson also dismissed what critics have said about the provincial government reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic as opposed to being proactive.

“I would say we were more proactive when it comes to certainly this variant. We knew that from other jurisdictions, that’s why we actually put in place further restrictions than most other provinces across the country at an earlier time. We also didn’t open up to the same extent that many other provinces, we kept many of those restrictions in place.” she explained.

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