Parents are learning what the upcoming school year will look like for their children.
Dr. Brent Roussin and Education Minster Cliff Cullen are sharing their Safe Return to School plan for the 2021-2022 school year.
"Students are expected to follow the COVID-safe basics," Cullen says, noting it is a priority to return students to the classroom. "Our school staff and teachers have shown incredible resilience over the term of the pandemic and we have all learned together."
The minister says $50 million is being diverted to schools. This includes $40 million for additional staffing, learning, technology and health and safety, $6 million for PPE and masks, $5 million towards the remote learning centre, and the remaining $2 million will be kept in a contingency fund.
While the province is moving towards what they say is a post-pandemic world, Roussin is anticipating cases in schools.
"We will continue to see infections in the community. We will see them in schools," Roussin says. The doctor is anticipating a flu resurgence this fall.
The province is putting out guidance for caregivers and students.
What to expect in the classroom
While there is not a total return to normal planned for Manitoba schools, some things will remain the same.
Fall will bring a familiar feeling to students as they return to the classroom. Music classes and sports are returning. School busses will run as they typically would with assigned seating. Sick children are not allowed at school. School gatherings, such as assemblies, can continue.
Masks are not a school supply list must-have, as the province is deciding to not require them in schools but they are recommended. Schools and school divisions can choose to mandate masks.
Students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 will continue to be in cohorts, while other grades will not. Grade 12 students will not have their usual end-of-year provincial exams.
Kindergarten to Grade 8 students coming from immunocompromised households can learn from home in one of the one thousand remote learning spots available. Cullen says all other instances will be on a case-by-case basis but students are expected to return in the fall.
Contingency plans are in place if the COVID-19 situation changes. Roussin says they are looking at the current risk, with the possibility of this changing as the school year commences. He could not say if there is an indicator as to when overall provincial restrictions could tighten.
Two-thirds of all Manitobans aged 12-17 have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Half of all youth have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine teams will be going to schools, hosting clinics in the fall.