The Manitoba government is establishing a new resource centre to support remote learning across the province. Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen made that announcement Monday morning.

“COVID-19 has changed a lot about our lives, and some of the greatest impacts have been on how we teach, learn and deliver education,” says Goertzen. “This new centre will provide much-needed support to teachers across the province who are leading remote learning, many for the first time, and to parents who have found themselves in the role of teacher and are in need of resources.”

The new remote learning support centre will:

  • provide a co-ordinated approach that ensures all students have access to and engage in high-quality learning regardless of the circumstances posed by COVID-19;
  • support teachers delivering education remotely by establishing a remote learning support team to assist teachers with blended and remote learning programs, and offering targeted professional development opportunities;
  • support students and families who are learning remotely by providing access to teachers and resources including expanded remote learning support during times when the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System is at an elevated level;
  • maintain a central repository of resources and a professional learning hub for teachers related to virtual learning, a learning-at-home resource bank for families; and
  • ensure the outcome of remote learning is effective and high-quality through monitoring, reporting, training and partnerships.

“We believe this system will enhance remote learning as more students move in and out of classrooms while offering quality learning and opportunities for students to remain engaged with their local schools where possible,” says Goertzen. “Our government is committed to protecting Manitobans and that includes protecting the ability of our students to continue learning during this pandemic.”

The Manitoba government will invest $10 million to establish the new centre including hiring over 100 teachers and 20 educational assistants for its operations, plus clinicians and IT support. The centre will build upon established expertise and resources, and access a network of divisions across Manitoba, and leveraging existing digital platforms used by many school divisions and students already. Funding for this initiative comes from the federal government's Safe Return to Class Fund.

Meanwhile, Goertzen says there will be three additional non-instructional days added to the school calendar for the 2020-21 year so that schools can focus on collaborative planning as they shift and adapt to remote learning. Two of these days will be scheduled before Christmas and one in the second semester. Divisions will incorporate these days into their calendars where it fits best.

“Our teachers have done an incredible job delivering remote and blended learning, and the remote learning support centre will ensure the support necessary for remote learning to be sustained over the long term,” says Goertzen. “Division capacity varies greatly, and the new remote learning support centre will ensure that all divisions will have the resources needed support to all teachers and students.”