A Manitoba school division says all its students will shift to teacher-led remote learning as the entire division moves to the “critical” or red level on the province’s Pandemic Response System.
In a letter to parents, which is also posted on Hanover School Division’s (HSD) website, the division says the move comes as COVID-19 test-positivity rates continue to climb in Steinbach and the surrounding area, and is not reflective of school-based virus transmission.
The change takes effect on Tuesday, Nov. 24, while all HSD schools will remain open with classes in session on Monday.
“We have been preparing for the eventual possibility that this would be coming,” said Shelley Amos, interim superintendent/CEO of the Hanover School Division.
“We noticed the trends in our area in the last week. We don’t necessarily have heads-up on public health information but we weren’t totally shocked and surprised that this is where we are now.”
Exceptions include K – 6 children of critical services workers who can’t make alternative arrangements, children of critical workers over age 12 who have disabilities or special needs that would prevent them from staying home on their own, and students whose parents indicated on an earlier survey that in-class learning is required.
Amos said 950 out of 7800 students in the division meet this criteria and will remain in class.
More details on the critical response for schools can be found on the government’s website.
The province said this impacts 19 schools in the division, along with one Division scolaire franco-manitobaine school, one funded independent school, and seven non-funded independent schools.
Amos thinks teachers and students have a better handling on remote learning this time around compared to the spring.
“We learned a lot. I would say in the spring it was more of a crisis mode. We had to shift very quickly,” Amos said.
“Now teachers have spent a lot of time learning about implementing remote learning, so I think we’ll be in a better place.”
The division says it will no longer be handling transportation as long as it’s in the critical level, but it is exploring “the possibility of continuing minimal bus transportation.”
Phone support will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, the division adds. Caregivers are asked to dial the number for the child’s school and press “1” when prompted.
Health authorities revealed Friday the ten-day test-positivity rate for the RM of Hanover is 30 per cent “and climbing,” while Steinbach is at a staggering 40 per cent.
That’s well above the already-high provincial rate of 13.7 per cent.
The division said there have been around 20 cases in their schools so far, but no community transmission.
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