Heightened restrictions begin in Winnipeg schools Monday

A Winnipeg parent says the province moving to heighten restrictions in city schools Monday amid rising COVID-19 case numbers while still keeping in-class instruction will be good for her children’s learning.

“I have so many friends (who say), ‘oh, they need to shut schools down’ — no, they need to keep kids in school as long as they can,” said mother of two Lilija Tonnellier.

“Space it out, hire more teachers, more supervisors, to help spread out these classes to keep the kids in school as long as they can, as long as it’s safe.”

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Thursday the new rules coming to schools will include increased physical distancing — up to two metres from one, to the greatest extent possible. Roussin advised schools to adjust classroom space as necessary, to remove classroom furniture and repurpose other spaces within schools.

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Read more: Winnipeg school divisions prepare for increased COVID-19 restrictions amid spike in cases

“There’s just so much protocol in place that I don’t foresee community spread happening if we keep doing what we’re doing, the schools are still a relatively safe place to be,” Tonnellier said.

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Tonnellier said the socializing that comes with in-class learning has been beneficial for her two sons’ wellbeing.

Extracurricular activities will only be permitted if all learning and distancing requirements have been met. If these activities continue, established guidelines must be followed and, in the case of sports, participants should maintain distance when not active, according to the province.

Teachers and staff who move across cohorts of students, including substitute teachers, are required to wear medical masks. Medical-grade disposable masks have been issued to all schools, but N95 masks are not required.

Click to play video 'Manitoba tightens restrictions on schools in Winnipeg Metro, northern regions, in response to rising COVID-19 numbers' Manitoba tightens restrictions on schools in Winnipeg Metro, northern regions, in response to rising COVID-19 numbers

Manitoba tightens restrictions on schools in Winnipeg Metro, northern regions, in response to rising COVID-19 numbers

Indoor choir and the use of wind instruments are not permitted.

All field trips must be postponed or cancelled.

Kindergarten to Grade 8 students may be offered a temporary remote learning option for the duration of the heightened restrictions.

“Social distancing in the classroom is going to be so much easier now because the ones that can stay home — or the parents that want their kids to stay home — are able to do that,” Tonnellier said.

— With files from Global’s Shane Gibson

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