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Coronavirus: Education Minister hopeful Manitoba schools to reopen in fall

Manitoba Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen listens in as Premier Brian Pallister speaks during a COVID-19 live-streamed press conference at the Manitoba legislature. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

For months many Manitoba parents have been juggling jobs and a laundry list of responsibilities on top of teaching their kids at home since schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Manitoba schools to remain closed indefinitely for school year

While many families have been looking to the fall as the goal to return to school, Manitoba’s Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen says it’s still too early to say what will happen, but he’s hopeful.

“We couldn’t have predicted this world three months ago, and it’s hard to predict what this world will look like three months from now. Our overarching premise is we want our kids back in school no later than September and we want it to look as normal as possible based on the medical advice,” he said.

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READ MORE: Quebec reopens some elementary schools, daycares following coronavirus lockdown

In Quebec, some students have already started going back to school, with classrooms at reduced capacity in keeping with COVID-19 safety measures.

“There are obviously a lot more unknowns than knowns in terms of what it’s going to look like for us in Manitoba in September. We can look at other jurisdictions, we can look at Quebec and other places in the world. While some of that is helpful, it’s not all that constructive. We have to do in our schools what makes sense in Manitoba based on what’s happening in Manitoba,” he said.

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“We’re the class of 2020” Kelvin High School students hopeful, preparing for life’s challenges in online video – Apr 21, 2020

Goertzen says it’s hard to say what the classroom changes would be in the fall if schools reopen.

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“If the evidence doesn’t show that we should have face masks or shields on teachers then let’s not go that far. Let’s try to make as normal an experience for kids, based on what’s happening in Manitoba.”

“Let’s do what we have to do to keep kids safe. We will rely on the medical advice but let’s not overreach so that the experience is so artificial and impractical it does more harm than good.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: University of Manitoba students, staff weigh in on remote learning

The University of Manitoba already said it will be shifting to remote learning for the fall.

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