The new guidelines for teachers and students in Manitoba amid the pandemic

By | May 21, 2020

WINNIPEG — While classrooms in Manitoba will remain suspended for the rest of the school year, one Manitoba business expects the learning will continue right through the summer.

On Thursday, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister released the draft plan for phase two of reopening Manitoba. While school classes are still suspended, the province said school facilities are now open for staff and specific programs. It said there will be limited access where physical distancing can be maintained.

The province said students will now be able to meet with teachers in small groups or one-on-one settings to conduct student assessments, provide clinical supports, administer recovery and remedial learning plans, and provide therapeutic services.

The guidelines limit indoor occupancy at school facilities to 50 per cent of normal levels, or one person per 10 square metres. Students can now access school Wi-Fi and computer equipment.

The plan said the use of outdoor facilities and playgrounds is encouraged.

Under these new guidelines, the province is recommending school start back up on Aug. 31, 2020, so students can transition into the new year.

“The details of the new year are not set out yet. What I can say is it is certainly not going to look like it’s looked in the past,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer.

REMOTE LEARNING TO WIND DOWN

The province said remote learning continues for students, but will wind down throughout June as student assessment and transition planning begins.

Though teachers will be writing final report cards for the school year, a Manitoba tutoring service said the learning is expected to continue.

Chelsea Arns is the director of education at TutorBright in Winnipeg. She said the COVID-19 pandemic caused a dramatic drop in one-on-one in-person tutoring in Manitoba. She said in April, they saw an 85 per cent drop, and had to reduce staff from 10 part and full-time positions, to one and a half positions.

But as families begin to settle into the new normal and the province continues to ease restrictions, Arns said business is starting to pick back up significantly.

“I think now a lot more parents and students, and most importantly our tutors as well, are going to feel a lot more comfortable going back into the students’ homes,” Arns said.

“I think a lot of our students have been isolated during this time, and even though they have been receiving virtual tutoring or virtual teaching – for many students it’s not the same, and for a large number of students as well, the online tutoring is not an option.”

While summer is traditionally a break from schoolwork, Arns said they expect this year to look different.

“I think this summer parents are going to continue on with the academic tutoring,” she said. ‘We want to make sure that when students go back to school in September, that they are more prepared than they otherwise would have been, had it not been for all the school closures.”

Arns said tutors and families will only resume in-person sessions when they feel comfortable doing so.

She said when tutors resume one-on-one sessions, they’ll be asked to follow guidelines, including washing their hands before each session, and sanitizing all materials such as pencils and pens. The tutors are also being recommended to wear a mask.

COLLEGES, UNIVERSITIES CONTINUE WITH ONLINE LEARNING

A spokesperson for Red River College said earlier in the spring it decided to shift the spring and summer terms, as well as tutoring and counselling services for students, to online delivery. On Wednesday, RRC announced its fall 2020 classes will also be held online.

A spokesperson for the University of Winnipeg said the university is focused on developing a plan for the fall term that ensures safety and quality education for students.

The University of Manitoba said the new reopening recommendations will have no effect on the university.

The draft plan can be viewed below.

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