Extended school suspension expected in Manitoba: Education Minister

By | March 27, 2020

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s Education Minister said the province will continue to follow the advice of public health officials when it comes to the suspension of classes in Manitoba.

School classes were suspended starting March 23 for a period of three weeks. Now, Manitoba’s Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said it might be a longer wait.

“We will continue to follow Dr. Roussin’s advice about the suspension of in-class learning,” Goertzen said in an email to CTV News Friday afternoon. “As he noted on Thursday, an extended suspension is something we should expect. More information will follow early next week.”

On Thursday, Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, said students likely won’t be returning to class when initially expected.

“It’s difficult to comprehend a scenario where we would be lifting our social distancing strategies anytime in the next few weeks,” said Dr. Roussin.

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, which represents teachers across the province, said for now teachers have been doing everything they can to continue to help their students.

James Bedford, President of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society said the future of the school year is still unknown.

“It’s highly unlikely that we’re going to see students back in the classroom on April the 13, we’ve got to take the direction from the Chief Public Health Officer,” said Bedford.

“I don’t want to speculate and say it could mean this or it could mean that, I think the province is deeply concerned about student learning just as the Manitoba Teachers’ Society and our members are concerned about student learning.”

In a statement to CTV News on Friday, Alan Campbell, President of the Manitoba School Boards Association said “School Boards and Superintendents have been engaged in daily dialogue with the Department of Education as we work together to ensure students, staff and families are supported both in the current time-frame and also if that changes.”

TEACHERS DOING EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO HELP

As teachers and students continue to adapt to the reality of learning away from the classroom – teachers across the province are doing everything they can to help their students.

“Teachers who are doing their own professional development to learn new platforms, to writing hand written letters to go home to their students, to making phone calls,” said Kirsten Thompson from the Mountain View School Division in Dauphin.

“Their really trying to emphasize to the parents and students that we are here as a support.”

Thompson also helped create a video with the help of several teachers in Dauphin, to help connect with their students during the pandemic.

“I very much wanted a way for our teachers to connect not only with each other, but to outreach to our MVSD families as well in a way that could be positive and uplifting.” 

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