School division in Winnipeg axes extracurricular sports for the fall

WINNIPEG — One school division in Winnipeg has made the decision not to offer extracurricular sports this fall.

According to a statement from the River East Transcona School Division (RETSD), letters were sent home to senior years families on Tuesday, notifying them there won’t be extracurricular sports this semester, including hockey.

The division said the reason for this decision was the need to keeps the school community safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 lives in our community,” said RETSD superintendent Kelly Barkman.

“In River East, right now, the numbers are the highest within the city.”

Barkman said the school division’s task force made the decision because it felt the schools couldn’t offer extracurricular sports during the first semester.

“Schools are part of the community, we’re not bubbles that are separate from the community,” Barkman said.

“So, we are all, in the school divisions in the province, and schools within each of the school divisions, working really hard within the pandemic and the public health guidelines.”

Barkman said the division is having ongoing conversations about what will happen in the second semester, but no decisions have been made.

“We don’t really know what like will look like, both in the schools and school divisions, and in the community at large for January and February,” he said.

Barkman said some parents and students have been concerned, anxious, and upset by the decision, and others have been thankful.

He said the division understands that there are students who really want to participate, but the division needs to do its part to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The schools fell along the line of wanting to make sure we did our part to mitigate the disease, the virus that’s spreading within our communities, within our schools,” Barkman said.

The schools will still offer physical education classes, which have been adapted to meet public health guidelines.

CTV News Winnipeg reached out to other school divisions about their plans.

The Winnipeg School Division said it’s still reviewing what can be done with sports programs, but for now, no competition is allowed.

The Pembina Trails School Division said no decision has been made and it’s exploring its options.

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