Welcoming Our Students Back: Restoring Safe Schools

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Restoring Safe Schools: School Settings Practice Guidance and Protocols
Restoring Safe Schools: July 30 - Guidelines for September 2020

The past school year was a challenging time for students, families and educators. Throughout Manitoba, in-classroom learning was suspended from March 23 to May 31, with all students learning remotely. The immediate shift from in-class to at home learning meant that educators, students, parents and caregivers adapted to new ways to ensure learning continued.

The first step in returning to school came into effect on June 1, 2020 when the limited use of school facilities started, with guidelines in place for staff and students to return to schools for specific programming, planning and student assessment purposes. The response to these challenges showed the creativity and resiliency of teachers, principals, school staff and especially students and their families as they worked through remote learning for the remaining 2019/2020 school year.

Manitobans will be living with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. We must adapt and learn to live and study safety amidst the pandemic. It is in the best interest of children to be in school, and we must mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on students and families to ensure that learning and assessment continues for all.

Manitoba’s plan to resume in-class learning establishes provincial consistency, while allowing for local flexibility where needed. The plan reflects the importance of safety, health and well-being, while ensuring reasonable measures and plans are in place to minimize the risk of transmission and exposure to the virus in schools, if it occurs.

Welcoming Our Students Back: What Parents Need to Know

This information is available in an alternate format upon request, please contact engagemb@gov.mb.ca.

Restoring Safe Schools: School Settings Practice Guidance and Protocols
Restoring Safe Schools: July 30 - Guidelines for September 2020

The past school year was a challenging time for students, families and educators. Throughout Manitoba, in-classroom learning was suspended from March 23 to May 31, with all students learning remotely. The immediate shift from in-class to at home learning meant that educators, students, parents and caregivers adapted to new ways to ensure learning continued.

The first step in returning to school came into effect on June 1, 2020 when the limited use of school facilities started, with guidelines in place for staff and students to return to schools for specific programming, planning and student assessment purposes. The response to these challenges showed the creativity and resiliency of teachers, principals, school staff and especially students and their families as they worked through remote learning for the remaining 2019/2020 school year.

Manitobans will be living with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. We must adapt and learn to live and study safety amidst the pandemic. It is in the best interest of children to be in school, and we must mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on students and families to ensure that learning and assessment continues for all.

Manitoba’s plan to resume in-class learning establishes provincial consistency, while allowing for local flexibility where needed. The plan reflects the importance of safety, health and well-being, while ensuring reasonable measures and plans are in place to minimize the risk of transmission and exposure to the virus in schools, if it occurs.

Welcoming Our Students Back: What Parents Need to Know

This information is available in an alternate format upon request, please contact engagemb@gov.mb.ca.

  • Welcoming our students back: August 19 Update

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    21 August, 2020

    Out of an abundance of caution and based on the input of public health experts, educators and parents, the province is now mandating the use of masks for grades 4 to 12 when physical distancing is not possible.

    With the updated guidance, masks will be required for students in grades 4 to 12, teachers, school staff and visitors when physical distancing of two metres is not possible at school. Parents and caregivers will continue to choose whether younger students should wear a mask. Further guidance on exceptions will be available soon regarding specific mask-free time and for those not recommended to wear a mask.

    The province is developing resources to help children, along with their parents and caregivers, learn how to safely put on, wear and remove a mask.

    All students in Grade 4 and up and bus drivers will also be required to wear non-medical masks on school buses. Masks should be put on before loading and taken off after off-loading.

    Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, also launched the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System, a new online tool that provides clear, timely information for Manitobans about COVID-19. It helps translate public health indicators and decision-making into a simple, colour-coded system that helps everyone understand what is expected of them, what they can expect from others and the measures that may be put in place to protect everyone. It also includes specific information for schools to help families, teachers, administrators and the school community understand the risks and provincial response to the pandemic. For more information, visit www.manitoba.ca/restartMB.

    Manitoba Education’s Restoring Safe Schools: Guidelines for September 2020 will be revised to reflect the latest guidance on this issue and posted at www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/covid/index.html. The EngageMB website at https://engagemb.ca/welcoming-our-students-back-restoring-safe-schools remains the best forum for parents, caregivers and students to post questions for response throughout the return to classroom learning.

    The province will continue to work closely with Public Health, education stakeholders, school divisions, independent schools, parents, caregivers and students as part of its response to COVID-19 and the safe return to school.

  • Welcoming our students back: August 13 Update

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    21 August, 2020

    The Manitoba government is releasing practice guidance and protocols to ensure students, teachers and families know what to expect upon returning to classrooms in September and to provide consistency across schools.

    The protocols include additional Public Health advice regarding the use of masks at schools. It is strongly recommended that students in grades 5 to 12, school staff and others in schools wear non-medical masks in common areas and where physical distancing of two metres is not possible. Younger students can also use non-medical masks if they or their parents or caregivers so choose. Non-medical masks should not be worn by anyone who is unable to remove one without assistance or by those with breathing difficulties.

    All students in Grade 5 and up, and bus drivers, will be required to wear non-medical masks on school buses. Masks should be put on before loading and taken off after off-loading.

    The province will provide masks to school divisions for distribution to students and staff, as well as other personal protective equipment to ensure safe and healthy schools.

    Manitoba Education’s Practice Guidance and Protocols for Restoring Safe Schools has been prepared in response to school division and independent school planning for the return to classroom learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The protocols are fully consistent with provincial Public Health and Health Canada guidance.

    Should a case of COVID-19 occur at a school, Public Health will work closely with school administrators to identify close contacts, notify them and advise them to self-isolate. The areas of a school where exposures took place will be cleaned and disinfected, and these areas will not be used until it is determined safe to do so. School communities will be notified when a student at their school is a confirmed case, once close contacts have been identified. A closure of a school would be a last resort and only with evidence of transmission among multiple groups of students or staff.

    School divisions will post their individual plans during the week of Aug. 17 for the return to schools and the plans will be linked to the Manitoba Education website. Each division’s plan will outline procedures for following Public Health orders and guidelines, for addressing the mental health and well-being of the school community, and for communicating information to students, staff and families.

    The province will work closely with Public Health, education stakeholders, school divisions, independent schools, parents, caregivers and students to ensure consistent, timely and responsive information, and to act on issues as they arise.

    The EngageMB website at https://engagemb.ca/welcoming-our-students-back-restoring-safe-schools will remain the best forum for parents, caregivers and students to post questions for response throughout the return to classroom learning.

    For more information on COVID-19, www.manitoba.ca/covid19/ or Manitoba Education’s latest COVID-19 Education News website at www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/covid/index.html.

  • Welcoming our students back: July Update

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    30 July, 2020

    Classroom learning will resume on September 8 for all students in kindergarten through Grade 12 at schools across Manitoba following last spring’s suspension caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The Welcoming Our Students Back: Restoring Safe Schools guidelines have been developed in collaboration with the province’s kindergarten to Grade 12 COVID-19 response planning team, as well as with school divisions and public health officials. Manitoba school divisions and schools will follow these provincial guidelines to finalize and post division plans by mid-August. Accessible and transparent information is important as students, staff and families will have questions about COVID-19 and returning to in-class learning.

    Learning in classrooms will be full-time for students in kindergarten through Grade 8 and for special-needs students in all grades, with five days of instruction per week. Some remote learning may be required for students in grades 9 to 12, based on the ability of high schools to implement necessary public health measures including physical distancing and the use of cohorts (designated groups of students) to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and to support contact tracing.

    Three response levels have been developed to ensure that school divisions and schools are prepared to roll back from in-class learning based on public health advice. Divisions must ensure that all students learning remotely have access to technology.

    Welcoming Our Students Back: Restoring Safe Schools is based on feedback provided by parents, caregivers, students and education stakeholders through an EngageMB survey that began in June. The minister noted tens of thousands of Manitobans have completed the survey, and the government will continue to collect and use this information in adapting plans while the public health situation evolves.

    For up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Manitoba, visit www.manitoba.ca/COVID19.

    A comprehensive list of Manitoba government COVID-19 measures can be found at: https://manitoba.ca/bg/2020/04/covid19.html.

  • Welcoming our students back: June Update

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    30 July, 2020

    The Manitoba government released a planning framework for the resumption of in-class learning, with teachers and staff returning to classrooms on September 2 and students on September 8.

    The framework provides guidance for school divisions to develop detailed reopening plans to be submitted to Manitoba Education for three public health scenarios including:

    • in-class learning with near-normal conditions;
    • in-class learning, taking additional public health measures into consideration; and
    • remote learning from home, with limited use of school facilities.

    Significant consultation with students, parents, teachers and education stakeholders occurred over the past month to gauge their comfort, with tens of thousands of Manitobans providing feedback.

    Divisions will ensure all schools have plans that are accessible to parents and students. Funded independent schools will also be asked to submit plans and post them publicly.

    The framework also outlines key considerations that should be addressed in the school and division plans including:

    • ensuring schools can respond and adapt to changing public health orders and guidance;
    • making sure any necessary physical distancing requirements can be met;
    • considering the use of cohorts in classrooms, on buses and during activities to limit exposure to COVID-19;
    • planning with a focus on in-class learning and establishing priorities;
    • looking at ways to accommodate specialty programming and extracurricular activities;
    • considering how school transportation can be safely offered;
    • looking at blended learning options that can be implemented quickly;
    • making arrangements for students, teachers and staff who may be at higher risk of COVID-19; and
    • considering learning and assessment needs, as well as any educational gaps for students as a result of the pandemic.

    The report can be viewed at www.manitoba.ca/covid19/restoring/safeschools.html.

    For up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Manitoba, visit www.manitoba.ca/COVID19.