WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is moving older students to remote learning following the holiday break in an effort to flatten the COVID-19 curve.
The province on Wednesday said Grade 7-12 students will learn remotely for two weeks from January 4-15, 2021. Students in kindergarten to Grade 6 will have the option to take part in remote learning or can attend in-person classes as per usual.
“Current data indicates the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our schools remains low and we want to ensure the return to the classroom is as safe as practically possible,” said Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen.
“By moving our grade 7 to 12 students to remote learning for the first two weeks of the new year and offering remote learning options to kindergarten to Grade 6 students, we are reducing the risk that may be posed as a result of a change in students’ close contacts during the winter break.”
While the risk of COVID-19 transmission continues to be low in schools, the province says older students have a higher incidence of contracting the virus, a larger number of close contacts and are more likely to transmit the virus to others as a result. Moving the older group to remote learning will reduce the risk of transmission in schools while minimizing the impact on kindergarten to Grade 6 students and their families, officials say.
The recently announced Provincial Remote Learning Support Centre will be available to assist school divisions and educational staff during the remote learning period.
Additional funding for schools
Manitoba is now fully allocating funding to school divisions from the $185 million Safe Schools Fund that was announced earlier on in the pandemic.
The confirmed allocations to support schools are:
- 2019-20 savings by school divisions – $48 million
- Per pupil allocations for school divisions and independent schools – $76 million including $44 million to specifically address staffing needs
- Safe Restart Contingency Fund, application-based funding to support emerging needs – $39.4 million
- Manitoba Remote Learning Support Centre – $10 million
- Personal protective equipment – $12 million
The province says as of October 31, more than $9 million has been invested in additional staffing, with a total investment of more than $67 million already projected to be spent by June 2021.
School divisions and independent schools can apply for additional funding for needs not covered by their Safe Schools allocation through the Safe Restart Contingency Fund.
Watch Wednesday’s announcement: