Manitoba’s largest rural school division moves to remote learning as COVID cases soar

WINNIPEG — Starting next Tuesday, nearly all students in the Hanover School Division from K to 12 will be moving to remote learning, as the region confronts some of the highest COVID-19 infections rates in the country.

“Acting on the advice of the chief provincial public health officer, schools have notified families and staff. This change is being made in light of the widespread community transmission of COVID-19,” reads a letter from Shelley Amos, the Interim Superintendent of the Hanover School Division.

Hanover is the largest rural school division in Manitoba and serves 8,500 children. It includes communities like Blumenort, Niverville and Steinbach, a city with a 40 per cent test positivity rate.

Despite that sobering statistic, the province said there has not been widespread transmission within schools.

Nineteen schools in the division are affected by the announcement, along with one in the Division Scholaire Franco-Manitobaine, along with eight independent schools.

The province is making an exception for the children of  critical services workers and children with special needs who will still be allowed to go to school in person.

In a statement, the Manitoba government said it will accommodate, “where possible, K-6 children of critical services workers who cannot make alternative care arrangements.”

Students over the age of 12 whose parents are critical services workers, or children with disabilities will also be accommodated.

The province said under the ‘critical’ or ‘red’ level the school division doesn’t have to provide transportation, however, the Hanover Interim Superintendent said, “We are exploring our options and the possibility of continuing minimal bus transportation.”

Schools will stay open Monday.

“We do understand and agree that this may create hardship for some families,” said Amos. “We appreciate your continued partnership and willingness to adapt and respond to these evolving conditions.” 

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