On Thursday, August 5, Education Minister Cliff Cullen and Dr. Brent Roussin, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, announced Manitoba's "Safe Return to School" plan. As outlined in the plan, all students in kindergarten to Grade 12 will be welcomed back to full-time in-class learning, with schools reopening at Caution Level (Yellow) on the Pandemic Response System. Public Health measures in schools will mirror those in the community; however, additional measures may be implemented regionally to address concerns about virus activity or low vaccination rates.
Although face mask usage is not currently mandated in the province's return to school plan, the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) hopes to achieve a collective agreement where all staff and students in kindergarten to Grade 12 wear masks throughout the day. This will be particularly important for students who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
During the 2020-2021 school year, the majority of kindergarten to Grade 3 students (who were not mandated to wear masks at the time) were able to wear masks because of our community's collective agreement. We are confident that we can reach a similar universal level of adherence this year for all staff and students. This will be achieved through ongoing conversations and dialogue between students, staff and families. If we see that we cannot reach a collective agreement, we will revisit our approach to ensure masks are an integral part of our return to school strategy.
Although it is not currently mandatory for students in Manitoba to receive the COVID-19 vaccination to attend school, all eligible students, staff and families are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated to keep themselves and their community protected. As we have done historically and throughout the pandemic, LRSD will continue working with Public Health on vaccination promotion, outreach, and access. Click here for more information on immunization for young people.
More important information:
- Staff and students will continue to follow the fundamentals (self-screening, hand hygiene and staying home when sick).
- Cohorts and face masks will be used for kindergarten to Grade 6 to reduce the potential exposure in students not yet eligible for vaccination.
- Schools will encourage physical distancing to the greatest extent possible and the practice of staggered entrance and exit times or use separate entrances.
- Schools supported by our maintenance and facilities team will continue to focus on maintaining and enhancing ventilation by ensuring all mechanical heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are working properly, while opening windows when weather permits.
- Assigned seating will continue on school buses. Parents/guardians with students who require transportation can look forward to communication in the coming weeks.
View the province's full Restoring Safe Schools Planning Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year.
Feedback from our community and understanding what is weighing on people's minds and hearts as we move into the 2021-2022 school year will be essential to making our return to school plan successful. Given the ever-changing nature of the pandemic and the fact that we will learn more from Public Health on August 17, we will consult with key stakeholders in the latter half of August and have more detailed information to share with the community before the beginning of the school year.
In the days and weeks ahead, the Senior Leadership Team will consult with school leaders, the Louis Riel Teachers' Association, local CUPE groups and parent council representatives to discuss their thoughts and questions. All students, staff and families can also expect a survey in the latter half of August.
As always, please feel free to send thoughts, questions or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe, be well and enjoy the summer,