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You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers

September 21, 2020

Earlier this month, on Sept. 2, we held our very first public Town Hall Live Event that we're proud to say had more than 5,200 people participate. At the hour-long event, Christian Michalik, Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) Superintendent and members of the Senior Leadership Team shared information on the LRSD Navigating the 2020-2021 School Year plan along with an opportunity for our virtual attendees to ask questions. While LRSD staff were able to answer some of your questions, we received more than 1,300 questions that evening!

On Sept. 8, we shared a Top 10 FAQ based on the questions we received at our Town Hall with our community. Since then, we've been working through the remainder of the questions our community brought forward and have even more answers to share!

We hope the FAQ below along with the one on Sept. 8 should answer the questions you had. We also  listened to the feedback from both staff and the community through the Town Hall Exit Surveys (view a summary of the results here) and the desire to have future Town Hall Live Events that allow for a longer Q&A period and focus on more school-specific information came through loud and clear.

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, we will be launching our first Family of Schools Town Hall. Each month, we will focus on a different Family of Schools to provide important updates and answer your questions. We will share more details in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, please check out the answers to your questions about masks, COVID-19 protocols, recovery learning, student assessments and more. If you have any school-specific questions, please reach out to your principal or tune into one of the upcoming Town Halls for more information. Any other outstanding questions can be directed to communications@lrsd.net.

Are substitute teachers allowed to t­­each at multiple schools?

One of the measures we are taking to minimize the risk of COVID-19 is to reduce the number of schools assigned to a substitute teacher and substitute educational assistant. At this time, substitute teachers and substitute educational assistants are assigned to work in one school location in Louis Riel School Division.

Will children be expected to bring their own laptop from home to school?

LRSD strongly encourages students to buy and own a device, such as a tablet or laptop, they can use at school. Currently, all high school students bring their own laptops to school, and we encourage families of students in grades 5 to 8 to consider this option as well. For families who are unable to purchase a device, LRSD does have an allotment of student laptops that can be used to support learning. 

To help families narrow down their choices as there is an abundance of brands and options available, LRSD has provided a Personal Device for School Buying Guide

Is LRSD supplying masks to bus drivers to wear and to distribute to students who forget their own?


How many reusable masks will be provided to each student?

Every student and staff member will receive two reusable cloth masks that were procured by the Government of Manitoba. This is in addition to the masks that have been provided by schools and families. The distribution to schools will take place between Sept. 18-23.

Are students able to wear face shields instead of masks?

On page 4 of the Guidance for Mask Use in Schools document from the Province of Manitoba it states, "Some people would like to use a face shield instead of a mask, but a face shield is not a replacement for a non-medical mask."

How are you ensuring that policies and procedures between schools and childcare centres are aligned?

Principals will meet with Early Learning and Child Care Centre staff to coordinate and plan to support student and parent transitions to and from the child care and school settings. Review the Early Learning and Child Care Centre guidelines.  

How can I apply for a mask exemption?

Please consult with a physician to discuss accommodations.

Is LRSD supplying masks to staff?

Yes. All 40 schools in LRSD have a supply of non-medical disposable masks available for students and staff who forget to bring their own reusable mask. 

What is the protocol if a child tests positive within a cohort?

Public health officials will lead the response if there is a positive case in a school. This means contacting close contacts and advising them of the need to self-isolate or self-monitor. Information will be shared with parents in affected schools when a case has been identified. Affected schools will also be identified in the Manitoba COVID-19 Bulletin. Schools will clean and disinfect areas that public health deems required, and the space will not be used until it is determined to be safe.

The process for notifying parents/guardians continues to evolve, however the general steps are outlined in this flow chart.

Should my child get tested if they have cold- or flu-like symptoms?

Students must be in good health to attend school. Before leaving for school parents/guardians are to use the Manitoba COVID-19 Screening Tool, using the following guidelines:

  • If a student shows any cold or flu-like symptoms (cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, muscle ache, headache, nausea, fatigue) they should remain at home.
  • If a person in the household has been diagnosed with COVID-19, is in close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, or if anyone in the household has travelled out of the province, excluding western Canada or northwestern Ontario, they are required to consult with Health Links prior to attending school and follow their directions.

If a child or staff member is living with someone who is symptomatic of a common cold or flu-like symptoms, but has not tested positive for COVID-19, should the student or staff member stay home, or is it OK to go to school?

As long as the student/staff member is not symptomatic and has not been in contact with a positive case of COVID-19, they can attend the school. As soon as a sick household member gets a positive test result, the student/staff member would become a close contact and would need to go home and isolate with their family.

How will ventilation work in the winter months?

During the winter months, we will increase fresh air intake to the maximum practical amount on all ventilation systems and maintain a comfortable learning environment. This will be done by ensuring the following:

  • Damper positions have been set to the maximum practical percentage allowing for extra fresh air on all rooftop units (RTU's) and other unit heater/ventilators.
  • Coils on all make-up Air Handling Units (AHU's) will be operational once the boilers are turned on. As many of these coils have been converted to glycol systems with steam boiler replacements, more fresh air is available now than previously. All other AHU damper positions will be set to the maximum practical percentage.
  • Where gas-fired AHU's are available, the make-up air position has been set to 100 percent.

What type of hand sanitizer and cleaning products are you using?

We have sourced, ordered and distributed Health Canada approved cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing supplies to all schools.  

Are you providing teachers with sanitizer and cleaning products?


Will speech pathology services still be offered?


With teachers wearing masks, what additional support will be offered to children with speech, language and articulation challenges who are at risk of falling behind?

Speech and Language Pathologists and Rehabilitation Assistants continue to work with school student services teams and teachers to support speech, language and articulation needs of students.  In addition to maintaining physical distancing requirements whenever possible, we have sourced transparent PPE masks and shields to allow for assessments and programming to continue.

Will kids with special needs who have worked with an EA still get support and will the needs be reassessed with an IEP?

Students with additional needs will continue to be supported through the student specific planning process in Louis Riel School Division. These plans are developed collaboratively and are adjusted as needed.

What learning accommodations are available for children with special needs?

Students with additional needs will continue to be supported through the student specific planning process in Louis Riel School Division. These plans are developed collaboratively and are adjusted as needed. 

How will a student receive instruction if they are sick for an extended period of time?

Periodic: Remote learning can be provided periodically when K–12 students are at home in isolation/quarantine, when cohorts are not possible, and for some high school students during the Yellow/Caution level. Learning will be directed by the classroom teacher.

Medical Accommodations: These accommodations are for students who are medically advised not to return to in-class learning due to COVID-19 related factors. These situations should be rare and limited to children with compromised immune systems or other medical conditions that increase their risk. Parents and caregivers must consult with health care providers on the need for accommodation (see Restoring Safe Schools: COVID-19 K–12 School Settings Practice Guidance and Protocols, August 24, 2020, page 18).

Note: This option can be available if health care providers have concern for immediate family members in a shared household where they cannot physically distance. This learning is organized at the division level (not by the in-class teacher) and may be coordinated across divisions.

Is recovery learning still occurring for students who did not complete all assignments or units during the remote learning period?

Students will need an opportunity to adjust to new school routines and expectations. Some students had lower participation in remote learning than others, and educators will need to be creative to address the achievement and learning gaps that may exist. Mental health and well-being is critical to returning to in-class learning plans. Regular check-ins and assessment will play an important role in supporting students' well-being and in helping students learn to the greatest extent possible.

In the first six weeks, school staff will make it a priority to co-create with students and families safe and healthy pathways to successfully navigate the 2020-2021 school year in relation to the pandemic. 

Staff should refer to a recent publication co-authored by The Learning Team – Recovery Learning in LRSD: Planning for Student Success Upon the Return to School. The document articulates some initial planning considerations for school leaders and teachers.

How will students be marked? Will there be provincial exams?

Student assessment and evaluation will proceed. Report cards will be provided to all students, including in situations where remote learning is required. In the event of cancellation of provincial exams, other forms of assessment will be used to determine students' marks.

An update from Manitoba Education on the provincial tests and assessments schedule for the 2020-2021 school year: 

Grade 3 and 4 Assessment and Middle Years Assessment

The provincial data collection associated with the Grade 3 Assessment in Reading, Lecture and Numeracy and Grade 4 Assessment in French Immersion Lecture, as well as the Middle Years Assessment of Key Competencies in Mathematics, Reading Comprehension, Expository Writing, and Student Engagement will be suspended for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Schools and school divisions are encouraged to continue to use the assessments as one of many tools to help identify students' strengths and needs in key competency areas in order to guide instructional planning. 

Grade 12 Tests

The grade 12 provincial exams will continue as planned, unless the public health situation warrants a change.

What will remote learning look like should schools need to close again?

Restricted and Critical Levels: As part of the Pandemic Response System, remote learning is required at different response levels (i.e., at Orange/Restricted and Red/ Critical levels). Since in-class learning would be suspended during this time, learning would convert to remote delivery and would continue to be directed by the classroom teacher. For additional details about the Pandemic Response System, read Manitoba's COVID-19 Response Level System Summary.

In regard to outdoor classrooms, is there a cold weather contingency plan?

We have redesigned spaces in all 40 Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) schools to ensure two metres (six feet) of physical distancing for all students and all staff in kindergarten to Grade 12 when in learning groups. This means that gymnasiums in some schools have been reallocated for classroom instruction or breakout spaces. In all of our schools, physical education classes will take place outdoors for the year. When it is unsafe for staff and students to be outdoors, programming will take place in learning spaces with additional safety measures in place. 

Will the division provide support for students who do not have proper winter clothing since outdoor learning is occurring more than ever?

The Louis Riel School Division has a long history of partnering with local agencies to ensure students who require support with cold weather wear receive what they need. Schools partner with Koats for Kids to provide winter coats, boots, scarves, mittens and hats. Parents can contact their school to receive support.

What is happening with sports?

On Tuesday Sept. 1, a recommendation was put forward to the Louis Riel School Division Senior Leadership Team (SLT) by the Coordinator of Healthy Living and High School administrators to temporarily suspend all high school athletics until Monday, Sept. 21. This recommendation gives schools time to plan and finalize the return to school for all students. A meeting occurred on Wednesday, Sept. 16 between the Coordinator of Healthy Living and high school administrators to review how to get sports safely started while respecting grade level groupings, sub-cohorts and scheduling etc.

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