January exams cancelled for Grade 12 students in Manitoba

High school seniors sweating about provincial exams can breathe a little easier for now.

Manitoba’s education minister sent letters to school divisions this week, saying the Grade 12 exams scheduled for January 2021 are cancelled.

The decision was made due to the mix of in-class and remote learning for students this year as schools continue to balance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen explained in the letter.

“Concerns have been expressed that the blended learning environment, and possible transition to remote learning, compromises the equal access to instruction,” the letter says.

“While some students have returned to full in-class learning scenarios, many have not. The implementation of a provincial test in this context raises questions around the fairness to students and the validity of the data if the tests were to proceed.”

Students and teachers can now focus on recovery learning from the interruptions that COVID-19 created when in-school learning was cancelled in March, officials said. 

Students were encouraged to continue online-based learning from home when schools closed, but not everyone had the capability to do so.

The province announced that grades would go no lower than what they were before classes were suspended, which led to many students just giving up on school for the remainder of the year.

It’s now catch-up time and the cancellation of January exams should help alleviate both teachers’ and students’ anxiety, Goertzen’s letter says.

No decisions have been made about the exams in May and June. A decision about those will be made in February, the letter says.

CBC has requested an interview with Goertzen.

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