2 more Manitoba school divisions to begin remote learning next week

Two school divisions in southeast Manitoba will be shifting to remote learning next week due to rising COVID-19 infections, the province announced Saturday.

Manitoba’s education minister Cliff Cullen and deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal made the announcement in a joint press conference Saturday afternoon.

All 27 schools in the Garden Valley and Red River Valley School Districts will move to remote learning between Tuesday, May 18, and May 30.

“So that’s 373 out of our 820 schools, so we still have a significant number of schools operating under the normal COVID operations,” Cullen said, adding the province values in-person learning and will try to have students back in the classroom if possible.

Read more: Manitoba to move all K-12 schools in Winnipeg, Brandon to remote learning Wednesday

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“We’re optimistic as we can get more vaccines into arms and people remain vigilant over the next few weeks, we can get students back for the end of the school year,” he said.

The news comes only three days after the province shifted all schools in Manitoba’s two largest cities — Winnipeg and Brandon — to remote learning as well.

Dr. Atwal reiterated health officials are confident the schools themselves are safe, but the decision was necessary to stem community transmission in the areas.

“It was everything that encompassed schools: the act of going to school, the ease of connectivity and interactions between students coming to school or on the way home and getting together was driving community transmission,” Dr. Atwal said.

Read more: Manitoba government reworks education system, eliminates elected school boards

“We’re hoping to break those community transmission chains.”

The doctor added such decisions aren’t “knee-jerk reactions,” but only made after careful consideration by various experts.

“We understand the impacts of this. Our public health team, we had medical officers of health, we had epidemiologists, we had our public health nurses representing these areas, we had discussions all through yesterday. We finalized some discussions this morning,” Dr. Atwal said.

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The province recorded 430 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths Saturday.

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Reaction to remote learning

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