Dr. Brent Roussin says that they are not planning to move to remote learning in schools.

Some school divisions across the province have been sending home letters, asking parents questions regarding remote learning.

The Chief Public Health Officer says this kind of full-time remote learning is in the school pandemic response plan.

While divisions may be preparing for the possibility, Roussin says the province does not have any plans to move in that direction in place.

"We have discussed different things that we are looking at, at our jurisdiction and other jurisdictions on whether we extend that holiday break and what that looks like, but we do not have any definitive plans at this point."

Roussin says they have not yet decided to close schools despite high test positivity rates.

"The simple answer is we are not seeing transmission there. All of our public health orders, the things that we are doing here is to limit the amount of transmission."

While full-time remote learning is an option, he says they are not rushing to make that call. Roussin says rising community transmission could lead to remote learning.

Community transmission, as a whole, is causing an issue with the pandemic.

"It is community transmission that is driving the pandemic."

He says while they see the severe outcomes in places such as personal care homes and hospitals due to the vulnerable nature of the patients, cases are present all over the province.

In the past week, over 500 COVID cases have come from community-based transmission, meaning the province does not know of any case links as there are no known direct ties to close contacts or outbreaks.

"You can see that the test positivity rate is over 13 per cent."

Roussin says Manitobans can help prevent this by staying home, only going out to work or shop for the essentials. 

Contact tracing in schools has not stopped, but it only applies to close contacts. 

"Public health works with the school to determine if there were close contacts. Those close contacts would be notified and followed up by public health.

Roussin says there are not many close contacts in schools as students are distanced and wear masks.

If a teacher tests positive, Roussin says sometimes they can receive the result before their school is contacted by public health.

"We are working with schools right now to have a tool kit to be able to address this little bit of delay to start working on things."

He says if a location shuts itself down early, there is the chance they did not need to in the first place if the person was not infectious. The doctor says he has seen this happen in the past in daycares. 

Understanding the possibility of gatherings in December, the province is considering extending the Christmas break. 

"We do not have any clear dates on that yet. These are things we are discussing here with the department of education. I am discussing with my colleagues throughout Canada through the special advisory committee on just certain options and what the benefits might be."

Roussin says the province is waiting to make the call about Christmas break and watching to see what other jurisdictions are doing.