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Manitoba schools moving back to remote learning until Jan. 17

Click to play video: 'Manitoba schools moving back to remote learning until Jan. 17' Manitoba schools moving back to remote learning until Jan. 17
The province says schools will once again move to remote learning thanks to rapidly spiking cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Abigail Turner reports. – Jan 4, 2022

The province says schools will once again move to remote learning thanks to rapidly spiking cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Schools will be in remote learning for one week until Jan. 17, starting on Monday, Jan. 10.

On Monday, students of critical service workers in kindergarten to Grade 6 will be able to head to school if needed and no other child care is available. High-risk and special needs students of all ages can also attend school if needed, said Education Minister Cliff Cullen.

The plan is for all other students to return to in-person learning Jan. 17, he added.

“We know in-person learning is best for students but we are still learning about how the omicron variant will affect our health-care system and Manitobans in the longer term,” said Dr. Jazz Atwal, deputy chief provincial public health officer.

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Read more: Manitoba students to stay home until Jan. 10: province

“This change will allow us more time to study the data we have and provide any needed additional advice to the education sector and families as we go forward.”

Daycares are being asked to remain open but to prioritize children of essential workers for care. Cullen said additional funding support to offset the loss of parent fees will be announced Monday.

The province will also distribute 5 million more masks for students and teachers.

Asked if the situation will actually improve in one week’s time, Atwal said “there’s a balance here. We have to look at risk.”

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Winnipeg math teacher Will Penner told 680 CJOB earlier Tuesday that the uncertainty has been difficult for everyone involved.

“Here we go again — that’s what goes through my head. I don’t even know what to think at this point,” Penner said.

“Teachers … students have gone through this, parents have gone through this. When are we going to know if we’re going to go through this again? That’s the big question right now.”

Click to play video: 'Remote learning reaction' Remote learning reaction
Remote learning reaction – Jan 4, 2022

It’s a question the union representing Manitoba teachers and the province’s largest school division have also asked, with both urging the province, which has so far stayed mum on any potential changes, to move to remote learning, at least temporarily.

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Winnipeg School Division (WSD) board chair Betty Edel, in a letter to the province Friday, urged the province to immediately move schools into Code Red.

“Although WSD has taken extreme measures all through the pandemic which included implementing mandatory vaccination for all staff in August 2021, in addition to wearing masks, sanitizing, distancing and improvements to ventilation, the virus has continued to spread throughout our schools and communities,” Edel said.

Read more: Manitoba parents anxiously wait to see if return to school plans change

“Clearly, these measures are not enough to control and combat the spread of this particular virus.

“Healthcare experts have indicated that a third vaccine is now required, as most individuals are no longer fully protected from contracting the virus, although symptoms may be reduced, it does not control infecting others, in fact, it lives to find another host.”

Penner said that while moving to remote learning wouldn’t be the “loved” option for anyone involved, Manitobans need to take a break from the strong opinions on social media and go the safe route, even if it’s for a short time.

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“There’s so many different things we’re reading — so many different ideologies about going back, and what teachers are worth, what students are worth, and what parents are going to go through.

“(Remote learning is) not easy. Trying to engage 25-30 students in the classroom, you’re there, you’re walking around, you’re allowed to ask them questions individually, talk to them in groups, whatever it might be.

“On the computer, it’s tough. It’s really tough. We hope for the best, but if there is a break, I hope it’s for the minimum amount of time we need to stop the spread of COVID and what’s happening in the city and the province.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Manitoba students to learn remotely for 1 week, delaying return to in-person learning' COVID-19: Manitoba students to learn remotely for 1 week, delaying return to in-person learning
COVID-19: Manitoba students to learn remotely for 1 week, delaying return to in-person learning – Jan 4, 2022
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