Manitoba delays return to school following winter break

The Manitoba government announced on Wednesday that it is delaying the return to school after winter break to Jan. 10, 2022.

Education Minister Cliff Cullen made the announcement in a news release, saying the delay is to give public health officials more time to assess the risks of Omicron, and determine if any changes may be needed when students return to school next year.

Most students were initially scheduled to return to school on Jan. 6.

“As we begin the holiday break across Manitoba schools, the Manitoba government would like to thank students, teachers, school staff, school leaders, school divisions, parents and caregivers for ensuring schools have been safe and open for in-class learning since September,” Cullen said in the news release.

“But right now, things are changing rapidly and public health has recommended a slight delay to the return to school. This will give them more time to better assess the risk and look at options for the new year.”

The province noted that the delay means school staff members will go back to work on Jan. 6 for professional learning and to prepare for the rest of the year.

It added that many childcare centres will stay open for children under 12 so that families can access the childcare services they need.

Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said in the news release the province will share more details about the return to school plan as it learns more about the Omicron variant.

“We have recommended this delay to a return to school in addition to the restrictions under the public health orders and I want to remind Manitobans of the importance of keeping gathering sizes small to allow a safer return to school in the new year,” he said.

Cullen said the delayed return to school also gives the province more time to distribute rapid tests to schools.

The province urges those who are eligible for a booster vaccine to make an appointment or go to a walk-in clinic over the break. 

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