Manitoba to move all K-12 schools in Winnipeg, Brandon to remote learning Wednesday

Click to play video: 'Manitoba announces K-12 schools in Winnipeg, Brandon to move to remote learning'
Manitoba announces K-12 schools in Winnipeg, Brandon to move to remote learning
Manitoba Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced Sunday that from Wednesday, May 12 until May 30, schools for those in kindergarten to Grade 12 in Winnipeg and Brandon would be moving to remote learning. He added kindergarten to Grade 6 children of those working in critical services who could not make alternative arrangements could still receive in-person learning in the two cities, as well as those in kindergarten to Grade 12 who are considered high risk or have special needs – May 9, 2021

In a rare Sunday press conference, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin and Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced all schools from ages kindergarten to Grade 12 in Winnipeg and Brandon will move to remote learning Wednesday, May 12 through May 30.

This includes all schools within City of Winnipeg limits, no matter their school division.

Roussin said schools in other divisions will mostly remain open, except in specific circumstances, including:

  • 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. 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 will be allowed; and
    all other public health measures will remain in effect.

“While some of these people may not have caught the virus in school or spread it to others in schools because they were self-isolating at home, the rising case numbers mean we need to take steps now to break the cycle of transmission and reduce case counts,” Roussin said.

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Click to play video: 'Manitoba announces public health measures for schools outside Winnipeg, Brandon'
Manitoba announces public health measures for schools outside Winnipeg, Brandon

About 20 per cent of recent cases are in school-aged children, said Roussin, with 208 schools currently dealing with cases.

“As of May 6, there were 574 cases linked to schools in the prior 14 days, and that included 25 per cent increase in staff and a 67 per cent increase in student cases.”

More background on the closures:

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Daycares will remain open for now, said Roussin. However, students who attend an elementary school who also go to daycare should not attend the daycare, he added.

Asked about supports for daycares to prepare for a possible influx of kids, Cullen said extra PPE will be sent to daycares, and any that do not wish to remain open, are welcome to close if they’d like.

Click to play video: 'K-12 in Winnipeg, Brandon back to remote learning'
K-12 in Winnipeg, Brandon back to remote learning

Elementary schools will remain open for children of essential workers, said Roussin.

Cullen said he’d like to see students back in the classroom for the last three weeks of school, but it remains to be seen if that will happen.

Read more: COVID-19: Winnipeg school moving to remote learning for two weeks

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Asked why the new measures for schools were announced Sunday instead of Friday along with the rest of the measures, Roussin only said it was because of a “dramatic increase” in cases among younger people over the past week.

Cullen added the measures on Friday should have been a “pretty clear alert” that schools were next.

This comes after students at schools across the province continue to record exposure to cases of the virus, though public health officials insist transmission in schools is low.

New public health orders came into effect Sunday morning to help lower case numbers, which rose above 500 on Friday. Roussin did not mention schools during the evening announcement, which put further restrictions on personal services, retail and restaurants.

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Opposition politicians and advocates have been calling for school closures in light of rising case numbers.

Sunday case numbers

Public health officials announced 532 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and three new deaths.

It’s the second-highest daily case count the province has seen. Manitoba’s peak daily case count was 593 on November 23.

Three women, one in her 50s from Winnipeg, one in her 60s from the Prairie Mountain Health region and one in her 80s from Winnipeg bring the provincial number of deaths to 993. All three deaths are linked to the B.1.1.7 variant of concern (VOC).

Today’s new cases include:

  • 27 cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region
  • nine cases in the Northern health region
  • 34 cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region
  • 40 cases in the Southern Health-Santé Sud health region
  • 422 cases in the Winnipeg health region

After 4,234 Manitobans went for a COVID-19 test yesterday, the five-day test positivity rate is 10.9 per cent provincially and 13 per cent in Winnipeg. There are 3,499 active cases of the virus across the province.

Read more: Businesses frustrated with Manitoba’s 3rd round of closures

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Currently in hospital are 210 people with the virus including 149 with active COVID-19 infections and 61 people who are no longer infectious, but still require care.

As of this morning, there are 52 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) including 42 people with active infections and 10 who are no longer infectious.

-With files from Will Reimer

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