Remote learning for Manitoba students after winter break ‘on the table’: education minister

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government could have information about what school will look like after Christmas as soon as this week.

Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen told CTV News that Manitobans could know more this week and that remote learning is a possibility that is being looked at.

“Well it is certainly being discussed and it is on the table,” said Goertzen. “We’ve been having discussions from the education perspective about what the system needs, what students need, what teachers need. And then of course there is the Public Health perspective, about what is happening with the virus more generally in the community and some of their goals.”

He did note that remote learning does make the most sense for students.

“It reduces the volume of students in school, depending on which grades it’s applied to. But also, we don’t want to just simply have no school, and so there has been lots of talk about extending the Christmas break and it’s not really extending the Christmas break, if we choose to do that, it would be going to a remote learning option.”

Goertzen said transmission has been generally low inside schools, as there have only been six outbreaks, where there are two or more cases connected within the school.

The provincial government has said in the past that the best place for students to learn is in the classroom, but other factors are at play right now in the community, which is causing remote learning to be discussed.

“The reality is broader transmission in the community is happening. So in talking to Public Health, of course, they are undergoing a number of different efforts to try and bring those broader transmission rates down, and some of that just involves trying to reduce the number of contacts people are having in the community.”

He said schools can play a role in that goal, by limiting students, teachers, and staff from moving around.

The Education Minister was also asked if a delay in parents being told their children may have been exposed to COVID-19 one to two weeks after it happened is playing a role in the province looking at remote learning as an option.

“It has been a challenge, of course, the contact tracing and making sure (Public Health) can get the notifications out,” he said.

If remote learning does come into effect, Goertzen wouldn’t say how long it could last, but he did note that they want it to be important and impact the goals Public Health has laid out.

– With files from CTV’s Renee Rodgers.

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