The end of Manitoba’s mandatory remote learning is raising questions

WINNIPEG — In December the province implemented a mandatory remote learning period after the school winter break. On Wednesday it announced the period was over, and kids could go back to school on Monday.

Nicholette Jones has two school-age children. She has immunocompromised people living with her and her kids have been remote learning since November.

When the province switched to mandatory remote learning in the new year – there was a slight change.

“So I asked ‘does this mean he’s not in his homeroom anymore with his teacher?’ And I found out yes, he’s not going to be learning with his regular class anymore.”

When the province announced the end of mandatory remote learning – it raised more questions for Jones.

“What does this mean for this two week period?” Jones said.

“(Will he be) taken out of his class? Is he going back into his class? Is he still going to learn with the educators that are teaching him now? Is it going to be a different teacher?”

James Bedford, president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, said parents will still have the option of remote learning for their kids for the rest of the school year.

He said the Manitoba Resource Learning Centre is providing some relief for teachers.

“K to six teachers won’t bear the sole responsibility of teaching both in class and remotely at the same time.”

Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s acting deputy chief public health officer, said schools are safe.

“Our epidemiology shows that young kids, their risk from a COVID infection at school is really low, it’s much higher in the general population,” said Atwal.

“That number goes up as kids get a little bit older, but even in those situations, that’s still much less than the general population.”

In a statement to CTV News, Manitoba’s Minister of Education said:

“We know the best learning environment for students is in the classroom. With Manitoba’s COVID-19 curve bending in the right direction, and under the guidance of public health, students will be returning to the classroom Monday.”

The minister said schools and school divisions can offer a blend of in-class learning and remote learning for students in grades 7 and 8 in order to meet public health measures, but it’s up to each division to make that decision.

Jones said she isn’t going to rush her kids back to school.

“I just really hope that we can get as many people (as possible) vaccinated in the province first, and then the kids can go back, and just be in school normally the way it used to be.”

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