Manitoba parents calling for at-home schooling options

By | August 12, 2020

WINNIPEG — The days are ticking away as Manitoba’s students are getting closer to returning to school.

However, this year will look different due to COVID-19.

The province has plans that include physical distancing, staggered breaks, and screening kids for illness.

But, some parents in the province are calling for the option to continue learning from home.

One parent, Michelle Walby, has a few concerns about returning to school.

“The sizes of the classrooms? It’s not possible to have kids six feet apart, and still have the same number of kids in the school,” Walby said.

Walby has two kids heading back to school in September and wants the option to have remote learning.

“Give everybody time to learn more about the virus before we jump and just open schools up.”

Some students will be allowed to learn from home if they have COVID risk factors but all other students are expected to be in class.

“The plan is based on facts, research, and expertise. And we will continue to do that because that is how we will make progress,” said Premier Brian Pallister.

Thousands of people have signed a petition asking the province to offer an online learning alternative.

Some parents have also decided to pull their kids out and home school instead.

The Manitoba Association for Schooling at Home said its membership has jumped 20 per cent in the last two weeks alone.

“We’re doing a lot of reassuring, and then just sharing some of our stories and some of our resources that we find work,” said Jennifer Gehman, who is with the association.

A local tutoring company, Tutor Bright, said it has also seen a big spike in calls, including requests for learning pods where a group of kids in the same grade can be taught together.

“That’s something we’ve never offered before, but it’s something we’re going to offer this year,” said Chelsea Arns with Tutor Bright.

Pallister did mention on Wednesday that more details about the back-to-school plan will be shared on Thursday.

If parents do want to do schooling from home, they must fill out a form, officially notifying the province that they want to home school their kids.

The form is supposed to be submitted before September.

The province will also not provide any learning materials and that is completely up to the family.

The Manitoba Association for Schooling at Home said there are a lot of resources available online to help parents.

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