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School year to start official on September 8 says province


The province has made it official, school will resume in the fall.
The province announced on Thursday that in classroom learning will official return on September 8, following through on plans they announced in late May. All grades from kindergarten to grade 12 will be impacted by the decision.
Not all students whoever will return to their pre-COVID-19 standards however, as the province stated some remote learning students in grades 9 through 12 may be needed, based on the ability of high schools to implement necessary public health measures. Any student that must learn remotely will have their respective school division ensure they have access to the required technology to do so.
Students in kindergarten through grade 8, as well as special needs students, will return to five days a week in class instruction.
Efforts are also being made to ensure child care within schools continues.
“The need for child care is top of mind. The departments of Education and Families are working with school divisions and the child-care sector to ensure that families can continue to access child care within schools,” said Kevin Goertzen, Minister of Education and Training. “Both departments are working together to develop learning guidelines for children with special needs, as well as students at risk.”
The province also announced the Manitoba School Boards Association, the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools, Manitoba Association of School Business Officials and the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents offered a joint statement in support of the plan.
“We believe that collaborative planning is in the best interests of students, parents, and school staff. The goal is to have as many students as possible learning in classrooms this fall and throughout the coming school year. Maintaining a strong focus on the health, safety and well-being of students, staff, families and communities, we all agree the emphasis needs to be on getting students the in-person teaching and learning they need while making sure that safety is the top priority for everyone,” read the statement.
Not all are in support of the move however, with the Canadian Union of Public Employees referring to the plan as “more a wish than a plan.” The union asked for more supports and resources for staff to ensure health and safety.
“CUPE Manitoba has members in school support jobs in divisions across Manitoba. We have many concerns and questions about school re-opening,” said Abe Araya, President of CUPE Manitoba. “Today’s announcement sounds more like a wish than a plan.”
The province stated they had approximately $48 million to provide to help schools maintain health and safety protocols, all of which stems from savings found when school was postponed and ultimately cancelled for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year in mid-March through to the end of June. CUPE’s opinion is that is simply not enough money to offset the increased costs that will be bore during the 2020-2021 year.
“As frontlines staff, CUPE members know firsthand that schools are underfunded and often overcrowded,” said Araya. “Before COVID, some schools already had a high demand for bussing, two or more shifts of recess and lunch, mobile classrooms, and hallway education. At around $68,000 per school, the plan to increase staff and resources for fall 2020 is unlikely to be enough.”

Trent Allen