Coronavirus: Answers to Manitoba school questions may come Thursday, says minister

A decision on Manitoba’s schools is likely to come this Thursday, says the province’s education minister.

Kelvin Goertzen told 680 CJOB that the issue of whether to extend the holiday break due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been discussed in two different contexts — from the perspective of the education system and from public health.

While Goertzen was unable to provide any specific details, he said it’s more likely Manitoba students will see a period of remote learning away from school, rather than just additional time off.

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“We’ve been working with public health, and I expect that we’ll have an answer by Thursday of this week so that those in the school system will have some clarity,” he said.

“I wouldn’t expect that it’ll be a break in the sense that there will be nothing happening,” he added.

“We know that it’s still important for students to learn and so remote learning during a time maybe away from school is a more likely possibility than just no school.”

The strain on human resources in the school divisions are also being considered, said Goertzen.

For the most part, though, he said schools have been handling the pandemic well, with only a handful of significant infections, despite the province’s overall numbers continuing to grow.

“We don’t want to minimize it. We’ve had many schools where cases have shown up, but at this point I think there’s been six where there’s a declared outbreak… so that’s, relatively, compared to where we are in Manitoba, isn’t bad,” he said.

Read more: Three weeks away, still no decision on extended Christmas break for students

The Manitoba School Boards Association said last week that parents will need as much lead time as possible to plan and prepare for any changes to the calendar.

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“Parents and caregivers need as much notice as possible if there is going to be an amendment to a winter break or remote learning, we’ve made that position very clear to government,” association president Alan Campbell told Global News.

“I think the more notice, the better. But at the same time, the decision-making process shouldn’t be rushed either.”

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