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Navigating the 2020-2021 School Year

First published: June 29, 2020

Last updated: April 19, 2021


To help our LRSD community understand where positive cases in the division have been identified, we have created an information tool that identifies the specific number of COVID-19 cases related to our schools that public health has investigated and confirmed.


Louis Riel School Division’s Response to Manitoba’s K-12 Guidelines for September 2020 Plan

Multiple measures such as communication, collaboration, self-screening, enhanced personal hygiene, enhanced cleaning protocols, physical distancing, use of cohorts, appropriate use of masks and outbreak management are paramount in keeping students and staff safe, healthy and in schools throughout the pandemic. 

Since the start of the 2020-2021 school year, all 40 schools have effectively implemented two metres of physical distancing between students and the use of cohorts for all students and staff in Kindergarten to Grade 12.

All students and staff are asked to wear masks throughout the entire school day while providing 'mask-breaks' when there is two-metres of physical distancing. For students in kindergarten to Grade 3, there are no requirements, but we have developed a collective agreement for enhanced mask-wearing. For students in Grade 4 and above, we ask them to wear a mask at all times, including physical education and recess. The bus driver and all school bus passengers continue to be required to wear a mask on the bus.

The Manitoba Pandemic Response System is comprised of four levels ranging from Limited Risk (Green) to Critical (Red). All schools in the Louis Riel School Division have been following Restricted (Orange) measures since the beginning of the school year. 

The robust and fully staffed Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) Learning from Home School (LFHS)/L'École Apprendre-chez-soi opened its doors in September to support students in kindergarten to Grade 12 who are required to learn from home due to a medical condition that affects them or a member of the household.

LRSD followed up with a Temporary Learning from Home Option (TLFHO) in December 2020 in response to parental concerns in light of the test positivity rate in Winnipeg. In addition to this, LRSD followed provincial direction to have students in grades 7 through 12 learn from home during the two-week period following the winter break; this opportunity was extended on an optional basis to students in kindergarten to Grade 6.

On January 18, 2021, all K-12 students, other than those in the LFHS and TLFHO, returned to in class learning after the temporary two-week period of remote learning. According to Public Health, the current measures in place for schools are not likely to be reduced given the ongoing need to mitigate risk of transmission in schools for the remainder of the school year. The measures related to the Restricted (Orange) level on the Manitoba Pandemic Response System (PRS) outlined in this plan will likely be in place until June 30, 2021.

With the goal of providing students, staff and families constancy for the remainder of the school year, the Temporary Learning from Home Option (TLFHO) was integrated into our Learning from Home School (LFHS) on February 1, 2021.

Schools also need to be ready for Critical (Red) level on the PRS plan if the public health situation changes in a school or larger part of our community.

The information outlined below is LRSD's comprehensive and up-to-date approach to navigating the 2020-2021 school year.

Christian Michalik, Superintendent

Table of Contents


School Attendance

School Calendar

Opening Day Conferences

Our 'new reality' is such that a constant assessment of risk and public health measures to mitigate risk in our schools will continue until we arrive at a post-pandemic reality as a result of a successful vaccination effort and ongoing refinement of treatments for the virus.

School and board office staff will continue to 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.

Well-being and learning are intricately linked. A positive sense of identity and self-efficaciousness leads to more engaged and productive learning. Engaging in carefully designed and relevant learning leads to increased well-being and resilience. This symbiotic relationship is at the heart of our Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP) and our strategy to navigate the pandemic.    

Manitoba Education's plan to resume in-class learning in 2020-2021 identified three re-opening scenario or response levels. The information related to the three scenarios or levels of response has been adapted from the June 25, 2020 planning framework in light of public health advice and the need for different levels of response that may be required at any point in time and across different communities based on the risk of transmission (see pages 15 and 16 of Manitoba's back-to-school plan). 

All levels of response need to support continued learning and well-being during the pandemic. 

Staff in LRSD continue to comprehensively plan for all three levels of response. 

In June 2020, a thorough audit of spaces in all 40 schools was conducted in order to facilitate planning for adequate physical distancing and cohorting of students and staff. Cohorts involve keeping groups of students (e.g., classes) together and avoiding interactions with other groups.

These two requirements compelled us to reimagine how schools are organized so that smaller groups of students could be accommodated. 

The overcrowding in several of our schools and the class-size in all our schools continues to require everyone's collaboration and contributions to accommodate physical distancing and cohorting of students and staff in many of our schools.

These two concepts also required us to reimagine several new realities:
  • the use of all spaces in relationship to smaller groupings of students 
  • teachers and educational assistants in relationship to smaller groupings of students
  • the design and delivery of curricula in relationship to smaller groupings and cohorting of these groups, especially in Grades 9 to 12
  • the design and delivery of curricula to accommodate Blended Learning (in-class and remote)
  • scheduling and timetabling in relationship to cohorting and Blended Learning

We use the words 'group' and 'cohort' rather than 'classroom' purposely. One of our new realities is managing the circulation and interaction of students and staff in K-12 outside of their cohort and considering all available spaces for these small learning groups and larger cohorts when they come together in a school.

Cohorts (see pages 7 and 8 in Manitoba's back-to-school plan)
  • Cohorts involve keeping groups of students (e.g., classes) together and avoiding interactions with other groups.
  • Physical distancing within the cohort is required to the greatest extent possible, including separation between desks. However, it is recognized that strict physical distancing at all times, particularly with young children, is not practical in the school setting.
  • The purpose of cohorts is to limit the mixing of students and staff so that if a child or employee develops an infection, there are fewer possible exposures and contact tracing can be more easily done.
  • There is no limit on the number of cohorts, as long as distinct cohorts can be separated to prevent contact with other groups. 
  • Each cohort must be able to arrive, depart, and participate in school activities without co-mingling as much as possible with members from other cohorts.
  • Whenever possible, keep children and staff together with the same cohort throughout the day, including lunch breaks and recesses. 
  • Locations of classrooms, use of additional space and timetabling by cohorts can all be considered to reduce mixing. 
  • Stagger schedules and movement of cohorts to avoid being in shared spaces (e.g., foyers, hallways) at the same time. 
  • Avoid the movement of classes of students where possible. It is preferable that teachers move between classrooms instead of students. 
  • Keep daily records that include the names of students, staff, and volunteers of cohorts.

Physical Distancing (see pages 5 and 7 in Manitoba's back-to-school plan
  • Two-metres of physical distancing is required, to the greatest extent possible. When this is not possible […], students must remain within cohorts to reduce exposure to others. Cohorts (designated groups of students) will distance themselves from other groups to limit exposure. In these instances, there must be at least one metre between students as they sit at their desks.
  • Install signage outlining physical distancing protocols and floor markings where any lines may form, both inside and outside the facility.
  • Where possible, arrange spaces and schedules to encourage the recommended separation.
    • Signage will be in place to promote recommended physical distancing and provide visual prompts for students and staff.
    • Physical barriers, where appropriate, are also an option when physical distancing is not possible.
    • Additional cleaning and disinfecting of any barriers or dividers will be required.
  • Be outdoors as much as possible. Promote individual activity to minimize contact. 
  • Contact sports and games, or the use of shared equipment, is strongly discouraged. 

Given the size of many of our school populations and the overcrowding in many of our schools (most of our French Immersion Schools), the temporary relocation of learning cohorts  to other schools and community buildings is necessary in order to safely accommodate the greatest number of students.  

Creating and nurturing a sense of community for each of these cohorts is essential to ensure that students and staff thrive in 2020-2021.

School Attendance

Regular attendance is mandatory, whether a student is learning at school or at home. All students are expected to participate fully in their education instruction.. Students will be assessed on their work, reflective of their performance and learning. School divisions and schools will ensure that all students who are participating in remote learning have access to technology (see page 4 of Manitoba's back-to-school plan).

School Calendar

On Monday, Nov. 9, former Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced, "three additional non-instructional days [will be] added to the school calendar for the 2020-21 year so that schools can focus on collaborative planning as they shift and adapt to remote learning."
Two of the three non-instructional days were required to be implemented into school division schedules before Christmas, and divisions could identify which days they would be.

After discussion with principals and vice-principals from across the division, Monday, Nov. 30, Monday, Dec. 7, and Monday, May 31 were designated as the three additional non-instructional days for professional learning and dialogue for all employee groups in LRSD.

All professional development days should be focused on COVID-19-related priorities and responses.

Non-instructional Days in LRSD for 2020-2021

  1. Wednesday, September 2, 2020
  2. Thursday, September 3, 2020 
  3. Friday, September 4, 2020
  4. Friday, October 23, 2020
  5. Friday, November 20, 2020
  6. Monday, November 30, 2020
  7. Monday, December 7, 2020
  8. Friday, March 19, 2021 
  9. Friday, April 16, 2021
  10. Friday, May 7, 2021
  11. Monday, May 31, 2021

In order to accommodate a range of reporting dates related to student progress evaluations in 40 school communities, schools were directed to schedule two additional non-instructional dates. Other dates of note include:

Winter Break
Last Day of School: Friday, December 18, 2020
School Re-opens: Monday, January 4, 2021

Spring Break
Last Day of School: Friday, March 26, 2021
School Re-opens: Monday, April 5, 2021

Last day of school in 2020-2021
Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Opening Day Conferences

Rather than traditional Opening Day Conferences, schools implemented staggered entries and communicated with parents/guardians outdoors, virtually or by phone, rather than in classrooms. The community can anticipate a similar return to school in September 2021 given what we know about the virus at this time.

Provincial Assessments 

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

Grades 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

In October 2020, a decision was made to suspend the Grade 12 provincial tests for the January 2021 administration. Further to this, a subsequent decision has been made to suspend the Grade 12 provincial tests for the June 2021 administration.

Institutional Preparedness

Contact Tracing

If a principal is notified by Public Health about a confirmed positive COVID-19 test, they inform LRSD Senior Leadership Team members and work closely with public health officials throughout the process.

Principals collect basic information about the individual including, but not limited to:
  • Last date they attended the school
  • Seating plan
  • Cohort grouping
  • Schedule
  • Confirmation of physical distancing and mask usage 

If a risk of exposure at the school is determined, principals will send a letter from Public Health to the school community. If potential close contacts are identified, principals will send a letter from Public Health to those individuals that outlines the necessary next steps. 

In some situations, an individual within a school community will notify a principal about a potential positive COVID-19 test before Public Health can complete its case investigation. Principals will collaborate with senior leadership and begin to collect basic information. If a risk of exposure at the school is suspected, a principal will send a letter from Superintendent Christian Michalik to the school community. A principal will collaborate with senior leadership to make the decision to, out of an abundance of caution, send a letter from Superintendent Christian Michalik to any potential close contacts that asks them to self-isolate (quarantine) until they are contacted by Public Health or school officials with next steps. 

Safety and Health Protocols

LRSD has developed Safe Work Procedures to ensure the safety and health of staff, students, and other individuals  that access divisional facilities. These procedures are continually reassessed and revised in accordance with current public health orders and guidance. Divisional Policy GBG – Board Commitment to Safety and Health requires that "every employee of the Louis Riel School Division […] take all reasonable measures to support the safety of other employees, protect the public and environment, and prevent loss of assets and/or damage to property". Accordingly, staff must ensure that they are aware of the most current Safe Work Procedures and that they are adhered to at all times.

All Safe Work Procedures can be accessed by staff in the Workplace Safety and Health portal. Current procedures related to COVID-19 include:

Mental Health and Well-being

LRSD is committed to the systemic promotion of mental health and well-being. The pandemic has inspired us to draw upon our prior learning and bring it to the forefront in our planning.

Mental Health Promotion 

Comprehensive School Health is an internationally recognized approach to supporting improvements in students' educational outcomes while addressing school health in a planned, integrated, and holistic way.  

LRSD schools have Mental Health Promotion Teams that have been trained in Comprehensive School Health to engage in Mental Health promotion planning. These teams will be helpful to promote positive mental health in schools upon re-opening. 

Mental Health Promotion is about creating environments that promote and sustain positive mental health for everyone. Activities, supports, and learning opportunities are designed to enhance protective factors and minimize risk factors. Schools are an ideal setting in which to promote mental health for children and youth, providing an opportunity to reach large groups of children during their formative years of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural development. 

Mental Health Promotion in schools focuses on enhancing protective factors that contribute to the social and emotional growth of children and youth and decreasing the risk factors that impede psychosocial development.
6 Ways to Wellbeing

LRSD and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority promote the "6 Ways to Wellbeing" as a helpful way to encourage students, families and staff to engage in thinking and activities in support their wellbeing.
  • be active
  • be positive
  • be social 
  • be curious
  • be purposeful
  • be mindful

A video explanation is available here.

Please see the document Supporting Well-being and Well-becoming in LRSD for more information to promote a common understanding of our collaborative learning regarding mental health and wellbeing.

Well-being and Resilience: Clinical Recommendations to Support Students in 2020-2021

The shift to a "new normal" for schooling during the pandemic is a significant transition for all students and staff.  The LRSD Clinical Team has developed a support document based upon the Circle of Courage to assist staff in understanding potential challenges for students and the planning required to promote student and staff resilience. 

The document provides:
  • Awareness of the impact of this pandemic on all students and families
  • Understanding of possible struggles students may experience upon a return to school
  • Strategies to help reduce the impact of the pandemic on the well-being of students
  • Strategies that support student's resilience and well-being for the transition back to school

Mask Protocols

The use of masks is mandatory for staff and students in schools when two metres of physical distancing cannot be achieved. 

In accordance with provincial requirements, the bus driver and all school bus passengers are required to wear a non-medical mask on the bus. Masks should be put on before getting onto the school bus and taken off after disembarking, if appropriate for the environment.

All students and staff are asked to wear masks throughout the entire school day, with allowance for 'mask-breaks' for students when two metres of physical distancing is achieved. An exception to this directive applies to individuals with certain conditions and needs. 

While there are no requirements for students in kindergarten to Grade 3 to wear masks, we have achieved a collective agreement for all students in kindergarten to Grade 12 to wear masks throughout the school day, including during physical education and recess. Since September, we've seen that students of all ages from kindergarten to Grade 12 can learn to wear masks in a healthy and sustained way.

LRSD continues to provide masks for every student and staff member. LRSD staff will continue to teach the appropriate use and wearing of masks to all students in all grades.

The Government of Manitoba has released guidance for mask use in schools, including a Wear It Well poster (in English and French) and video for parents/guardians and students to review. They have also released Guidance for Mask Use in Schools and Further Guidance on Mask Wearing Limitations and School Accommodations.

Practical Arts

To avoid the mingling of school populations and to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission, transportation of students from one school to a different school in the division to attend Practical Arts has been suspended indefinitely. Practical Arts teachers will collaborate with grade-level teachers to support project-based learning in home schools. 

Music Programming

To ensure two metres of physical distancing for all students and all staff in kindergarten to Grade 12 when in learning groups, music rooms in some schools have been reallocated for classroom instruction.  

In schools where a dedicated music room is not available, the teaching of music outcomes may be delivered by the music specialist in individual classrooms or integrated into instruction by grade-level teaching teams. The music specialist may support this integration if not required to directly support a different cohort of students. This will vary depending on local school needs.  

On Friday, March 12, the provincial government issued Manitoba Education Covid-19 Bulletin #9 that outlined changes to public health restrictions in place on singing and playing of wind instruments in kindergarten to Grade 12 schools. The required protocols have been communicated with principals and music specialists to ensure a safe return to singing and the playing of wind instruments. As the weather continues to warm up, the use of outdoor spaces will be expanded and prioritized. Singing and the playing of wind instruments may begin in designated indoor spaces as the review of the teaching spaces and public safety protocols has been approved by the LRSD Senior Leadership Team. 

Physical Education

To ensure two metres of physical distancing for all students and all staff in kindergarten to Grade 12 when in learning groups, 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 possible. When it is unsafe for staff and students to be outdoors, programming will occur indoors with additional safety measures in place. LRSD has rented outdoor tents from Weatherwise Tent Rentals for schools that do not have access to their gymnasium or adequate space in empty classrooms for physical education classes during the winter months.  

Sports Teams

Members of the LRSD Senior Leadership Team have consulted with high school administrative teams to explore the planning of a cautious and limited return to training in a few spring sports.   

High schools in LRSD may navigate practice and training sessions in a limited capacity supervised by school staff who are well-versed in COVID-19 safety protocols. LRSD has developed Return to Sport guidelines for any school administrators who are considering the eventual reintroduction of sports in schools. As schools begin to provide more opportunities for students, families will receive updated information directly from their schools.

Please refer to the province's Sports Guidelines for further guidance and the most recent directives on how sports and other activities may be modified/adapted to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Re-Opening and Schooling Scenarios

LRSD applauds Manitoba Education's efforts to prioritize in-class learning in 2020-2021. The province recognizes that our public schools are essential "to the mental health and well-being of children. Planning should focus on returning as many students to in-class learning as possible while following public health advice and subject to available physical space and resources." 

Manitoba Education has made full-time in-class learning a priority for "students in K-8, students with special needs (all grades), and students who require additional supports who benefit from face-to-face interaction with educators and who may have difficulties navigating remote learning independently. Their return to school also provides parents and caregivers with a greater ability to return to work."

Rethinking Learning and Teaching

Our plan to mitigate risk in schools requires us to temporarily reimagine teachers and educational assistants in relationship to smaller learning cohorts of students and a holistic approach to learning and teaching. 

Some staff assignments were changed temporarily. 

From kindergarten to Grade 12, we will continue to strengthen student-centred instructional practices that advance deeper-learning (play-based in the early years, project-based in middle and senior years).

To ensure we are successful in navigating the pandemic, now, more than ever, we need to co-create and co-articulate a K-12 learning journey that values relevance and creativity as much as rigour and accountability.

Manitoba Education makes explicit that school systems in 2020-2021 will need to continue to refine their Blended Learning strategy: 
  • Teacher-directed remote learning will be an essential component of K-12 education throughout the pandemic.
  • Asynchronous (working independently on their own) and synchronous (working with a teacher in real-time) options will need to be refined. 
  • Remote and blended in-class and remote learning plans may need to be implemented on short notice.
  • Remote learning plans will also need to be developed for students with underlying health conditions that prohibit them from returning to in-class learning (before broad access to a vaccine) and students in 14-day quarantine or isolation. 

LRSD will continue to:
  • monitor students that require support to obtain access to devices and the Internet 
  • enhance staff access to technology (devices, software and systems) to ensure the ongoing development of its Blended Learning strategy.
  • refine its Blended Learning strategy' (see Bridging the distance: Remote learning best practices and the LRSD) by meaningfully engaging staff, students and parents/guardians to
  • co-create the strategy,
  • develop their technical proficiency and capacities

Online and Technology Capacity

LRSD continues to leverage technology such as Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, to support teaching and learning during a pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic our priorities have been:
  • Ensuring students have access to the internet and laptops. 
    • Additional laptops (and other mobile learning technologies) for students and staff were ordered
    • 1,403 laptops are currently with students for home use
    • If a move to Critical (Red) is necessary, 3,527 students require laptops
    • We will provide details in LRSD's Blended Learning Action Plan to support staff's collective efficacy and maximize student engagement no matter where and when they're engaging with technology to support their learning
  • Offering professional development for teachers to transition to an online teaching environment
    • More than 150 professional development sessions have been offered 
    • More than 700 teachers have taken part in online professional learning regarding the use of technology to support online learning
    • LRSD offers an EdTech mentorship program that allows teachers to collaborate with a mentor colleague.
  • Enhancing technology in the classroom for staff and students
    • LRSD is continuing to enhance the availability of technology for both teachers and students as well as looking for new technologies to assist in teaching and learning in our schools.

Online tools such as Microsoft Teams and OneDrive have become part of daily classroom routines, even with the majority of students continuing to learn in schools. Over 21 million files are currently stored in OneDrive. During the two-week "remote" learning period in January 2021: 
  • More than 15,000 online teacher/student meetings were organized
  • More than 4,500 1:1 calls took place
  • More than 17,000 chat messages channel messages were posted

Student Transportation

On July 30, 2020, the Manitoba government loosened its Guidelines for Transportation to Schools for the 2020-2021 school year. With this change to the Guidelines, LRSD does not have the capacity to transport 3,000 students to and from school. 

Government and school divisions continue to reiterate that 'wherever possible, alternative transportation to school is encouraged'. Parents/caregivers/students may provide their own transportation, including carpooling, walking, or cycling, to avoid possible virus exposure on the bus. Please note that carpooling can also be a risk for transmission.

Student Services and Clinical Services

Student Services and Clinical Services staff continue to navigate our new reality in the 2020-2021 school year. This includes smaller student learning groups and cohorts, remote learning, ongoing disruptions to on-site learning due to student health and pandemic restrictions, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other changes required to adapt to pandemic restriction requirements. 
It is important that student-specific planning include continual capacity building for remote learning and use of technology for communication and learning where possible to mitigate disruptions in learning when students are not able to attend school.  Please see important additional information from Manitoba Education: Resources Supporting Students with Special Needs.

  • The well-being of students, families and staff
  • A focus on equity for our most vulnerable students
  • Maintaining connections between school staff and students
  • Student specific resources/supports and services can be effectively provided remotely if necessary
  • We continue with our service delivery models whenever possible. However, ongoing capacity building (identification and preparation) for remote and small cohort learning opportunities is important.
  • Remote learning comes in many forms and is not always online learning
  • Engagement and dialogue with families is key 
  • Schools and families have local contexts that they must navigate
  • Planning and time for planning are key
  • We continue to adopt a Growth Mindset: we are in a novel situation and we will learn and improve service delivery.

Issues Requiring Additional Planning During Pandemic Restrictions
  • Staff and student physical and mental health
  • Student transition planning
  • Planning for students unable to follow physical distancing requirements
  • Designing cohorts where students with greatest needs have the greatest access to necessary professional staff and spaces
  • Reducing staff and student circulation in schools
  • Ongoing Remote learning 
  • Special needs transportation
  • Home situation and family/childcare availability
  • Equipment and space sharing and cleaning
  • Appropriate understanding, use, care, and disposal of PPE 
Guidance for School Administration
  • Principals are responsible to lead and organize the school Student Services Support Team.
  • Review Manitoba Education's Covid-19: Resources Supporting Students with Special Needs with Student Services Teams.
  • Activate the school's Mental Health Promotion Team and support their planning for comprehensive school health and well-being.
  • Arrange Student Services School Support Team Meetings 
    • Confirm scheduled meetings and provide options for MS Teams participation. Ask a representative of the clinical team for your school to propose dates the clinical team is available to ease scheduling challenges.
    • Invite Clinical Supervisors and the Director to your School Support Team Meetings (for information only unless you are requesting their support in advance).
    • Provide information to team members in advance where possible to make meetings more efficient.
  • Use and collect data to identify Students in-risk due to pandemic or family circumstances (access to technology, requiring 'Student Specific Planning', well-being, loss of contact with student/family, etc.).
  • Update class profiles and student-specific planning to include remote learning and physical distancing requirements as necessary.
  • Engage in student transition planning for the 2021-2022 school year. Plan ongoing necessary training for staff to work safely with students including:
Important Tasks During Pandemic Disruptions
  • Review and assign case management to staff.
  • Ensure that an early connection with parents/guardians is established to create an ongoing communication plan (as per earlier guidelines).
  • Review Clevr forms, Class Profiles, Support Intensity Scale data with teachers and identify students requiring new student-specific planning in the current context.
  • Confirm meeting dates with the School Support Team as soon as possible and invite Director of Student and Clinical Services and Clinical Supervisors.
  • Have general resources for parents prepared in advance that are specific to their child's needs.
  • Arrange virtual Student Specific planning meetings for students to establish educational continuance goals and planning with parents and school teams.
  • Prepare resources/supports and arrange services/connections to support students with tier 2 and tier 3 programming.
  • Re-evaluate transportation plans and supports as necessary.
  • It is essential to connect with parents/guardians to understand their circumstances and needs, to establish a communication plan, and share information to inform student-specific planning whether at school or at home.
  • We need to provide notice to families regarding specific tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 supports that student services will provide to their children remotely if necessary.
  • Arrange regular, ongoing check-ins with families (phone, email, online tools, etc.)
  • Use check-ins to discuss resources, supports and services, prioritize learning needs, problem-solve learning and behavioural issues at home, and customize the daily schedule for students.
  • Help to overcome individual obstacles to accessing materials and resources.
  • Scheduled times with students and families is recommended.
  • Consider office hours and staff accessibility.
  • Identify specific hours in the day parents can sign-up for ahead of time and touch base with a specific person at the school.  

Guiding Student Services Teacher Service Delivery During Remote Learning
  • Co-plan inclusive, developmentally appropriate learning activities with teachers and develop learning resources for parents/students.
  • Provide student-specific planning support for teachers and families.
  • Support student-specific planning implementation 
  • Support outreach for students in-risk and struggling to engage in remote learning easily.
  • Support understanding of each child's remote learning environment and current considerations for student-specific plans. 
  • Support teachers in the identification of students' learning recovery needs upon return to school. 
Student Specific Plans
  • Learning should be enjoyable and promote relationship, communication and wellbeing.
  • Student specific goals must consider new learning environments and supports available.
  • Consider greater use of outdoor spaces.
  • Move from student-specific programming to cohorts of students with common needs where possible to reduce social isolation and staff circulation/distribution of resources and needs for spaces.  Inclusion must be meaningful and purposeful, not merely physical/social.
  • Assets and resources available to students will vary.
  • Co-planning and co-constructing using a team approach with parents/guardians and older students is even more essential.
  • Whether curricular or student-specific, goals should be developmentally appropriate and relevant and appropriate for onsite or remote learning contexts.
  • Focus on making curriculum learning accessible (accommodation, adaptation, modification if the student is eligible).
The Role of Support Staff Working with Students During Pandemic Restrictions in LRSD

LRSD recognizes the value of its support staff and their contributions in supporting the inclusion of all students in our community schools. During the pandemic, the learning environment has changed to include remote learning and learning in schools in smaller cohorts with public health restrictions. As a result, the context and possibilities for meaningful work for support staff working with students have changed. 

However, the distinctions between the roles and responsibilities of support staff and professional staff have not changed. The norms for roles and responsibilities, and the requirement for professional staff to plan for and assess learning, provide initial instruction to students and support staff, and to schedule and manage communication between staff, students and parents/guardians, remains in effect. For clarity on roles and responsibilities please see the document Educational Assistants in Manitoba Schools

The following applies to engaging support staff in work with students:
  • Support staff may have increased responsibility for supervision and support of student learning planned by professional staff.
  • Remote student engagement is to be scheduled and supervised by the teacher/supervisor in Outlook/Skype/Microsoft Teams in collaboration and as planned with students, staff and parents/guardians.
  • It is understood that professional staff will join and supervise/participate in the remote or onsite learning activities with a frequency and duration as they deem appropriate and necessary depending upon the learning task, the staff/student relationship and familiarity with each other, the learning task, and other factors which may require more direct support. 
  • Professional staff will be available to support as needed.
  • Support staff will communicate student progress or other feedback to supervising professional staff daily and not to parents/guardians.
  • Only professional staff will communicate with parents regarding students as per normal protocols.

During any future class suspension period, the assignment of meaningful work for support staff will be directed by school administration and will support our current Student Support Services priorities. Meaningful work includes the following:
  • support home learning by assisting with check-ins and maintaining connections
  • offer supplemental support and encouragement to students as staff are capable and trained to do.
  • follow-up and reinforce instruction provided by teachers
  • support clinical services programming as directed by clinicians (tier 3 only by Rehabilitation Assistants, Child and Youth Care Workers)
  • support reading/speaking activities (especially in 2nd language programming)
  • review social stories and assist with transition activities
  • help prepare resources, supplies, and care packages for students
  • support learning resource creation guided by teachers (e.g. PowerPoint, videos, print resources, visual schedules)
  • engage in other normal duties to support professional staff and students as assigned

Please refer any questions to the Director of Inclusion and Clinical Services or Assistant Superintendent of Staff Services.

Modifying Behaviours that Mitigate Risk 

There are many uncertainties about the COVID-19 pandemic that may cause us to feel stress. You might be wondering how long the pandemic will last, how long will I have to work from home, or how long will in-school learning continue?

The answers are uncertain and spending too much time worrying about them may make us feel worse. Some things that you CAN control daily:
  • Stay home if you show any cold or flu-like symptoms (cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, muscle ache, headache, nausea, fatigue)
  • Wash hands regularly
  • Exercise every day
  • Spend time outside
  • Take time to focus on breathing
  • Treat others with kindness
  • Focus on schoolwork
  • Talk with friends or family members on the phone or online

Childcare and Before- and After-School programs

The division and its Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) partners have worked together to develop a strong planning partnership by building a bridge between the two systems to support a seamless transition for young children as they move from childcare to school. 

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic did not put our collaboration on hold. The division and ELCC partnership has continued and has been paramount to ensuring a safe and consistent approach to opening spaces for children in childcare centres located in divisional facilities.

The ongoing collaboration helped support the transition from the closure of child care services to providing child care for essential workers to expanding accommodation for all workers and, finally, to opening child care centres at full capacity, all while adhering to public health safety guidelines. This will continue as we collectively navigate responsively to Public Health mandates during COVID-19. 

More information on child care spaces.

Reviewing Emergency Preparedness

At the beginning of each school year, principals conduct a review of their school-specific emergency response plan (see Policy EBCA – Emergency Preparedness Plan). Public health orders do not require physical distancing requirements to be respected during evacuations or lockdowns. The need for emergency procedures to be expedient, effective, and consistent outweighs the risk that COVID-19 would pose during these situations. Students will be encouraged to respect physical distancing once they have arrived at the muster point.

Board Meetings

The LRSD Board of Trustees will continue to meet regularly throughout 2020-2021 (see schedule). Meetings occur via Microsoft Teams to adhere to current Public Health orders. Public participation is welcome, with advance registration required. 

Divisional Direction

LRSD remains firmly committed to its Vision, Mission and ValuesMulti-Year Strategic Plan, and policies. By articulating LRSD's foundational principles, these documents provide clear direction. With the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19, clear direction is more important than ever. The division calls on all members of the school community, which includes staff, students, and parents/guardians, to keep these documents top of mind as they engage in their daily work in 2020-2021 and beyond.

Facility Use Permits

Permits for evening and weekend facility use are suspended until further notice. The suspension will accommodate increased cleaning requirements and afford schools greater flexibility to repurpose gyms and multipurpose rooms for other types of instruction.

Managing New Registrations

Mobility is a part of life for many families in Canada, and while there has been less mobility during the COVID-19 pandemic, some families will still choose to relocate for better housing, work opportunities, and many other reasons. We can expect that families will continue to relocate within the City of Winnipeg, between cities and provinces across Canada, and internationally. Furthermore, relocation will continue to happen throughout the school year, meaning that students new to our division can arrive at any time. 

To guide the safe and successful welcoming and registration of new students, the following guidelines apply:
  • Families new to LRSD must contact the school by phone or email to arrange a registration appointment. Families who are uncertain of which school to contact can use the online LRSD School Finder or contact the Board Office for assistance. Unscheduled in-person visits to the school will not be accepted. 
  • The school will arrange an appropriate meeting time and communication method (in-person, online, or other) to facilitate new registrations.
  • If the family is relocating from out of province, they will be asked to contact the International Student Program (ISP) office (204) 253-8025. ISP staff will verify whether the family has arrived from a region that warrants a mandatory quarantine or isolation period. Families may be asked to verify their travel dates, quarantine schedules and plans. 
  • Once all information is verified, the ISP office will contact schools to notify them that the registration process can begin. New registrations can be facilitated online but student attendance at school can only occur after any mandatory quarantine or isolation period has been completed.
  • Scheduling and timetabling of new students may require additional time to comply with distancing and cohort limitations. Families will be advised that this may take several weeks or more.

Local Field Trips

Field trips and off-site activities form an essential part of the learning experience for students at all grade levels. Careful consideration must be given to any plans that might involve taking students off the school property. To support decision making for possible field trips, teachers and administrators must use the following guidelines: 
  • All proposed trips must be structured to adhere to health regulations in effect at the time of booking, including transportation guidelines, supervision requirements, groups size limits, cohort structures (including the supervisors), food and nutrition requirements, and physical distancing limitations at the site of the field trip.
  • All plans for local field trips must be approved by the school administrator prior to booking sites and transportation. Detailed records must be kept of the trip plan, participants (including supervisors), and transportation details.

Overnight field trips are suspended until further notice.

Out-of-Province Student and Staff Travel

All out-of-province student travel is suspended for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. The rationale for the suspension of travel is as follows: 
  • The obvious concern for student and staff safety and well-being.
  • Continued uncertainty about predicting the spread, impact, and potential second wave occurrences of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Travel restrictions and quarantine requirements vary across regions and countries. 
  • Significant and unpredictable insurance issues regarding both medical and liability insurance for travellers and the division.
  • Unpredictable cost projections due to uncertainty regarding the availability and cost of transportation, variability of currencies and exchange rates.
  • Reducing the financial impact on families by cancelling trips with as much advance notice as possible.

International Student Program

Homestay Program

LRSD, through the Director of the International Student Program (ISP) and EAL, assumes legal custodianship of all international students who utilize our Homestay Program. However, LRSD and our homestay families will not be able to support mandatory self-quarantine or self-isolation requirements for international students. As a result, LRSD has suspended the Homestay Program to new international students until such time that federal and provincial health authorities remove all requirements for self-isolation (quarantine) periods following any international and interprovincial travel. The Homestay Program will continue to be available to international students who began their studies in LRSD prior to the pandemic and who have remained in Winnipeg. 

Suspending the Homestay Program will result in many new international students not being able to come to Canada to study. For those students affected by this decision, the following is available:
  • Students can defer their registration until a later date.
  • Students can cancel without penalty.

Independent International Students

Many international students arrive as 'independent' students, meaning their parents have made private arrangements for custodianship and accommodations, often involving immediate or extended family members. For these students, their legal guardians and custodians would be responsible for any  or self-isolation (quarantine) requirements that may be in place at the time of arrival.

When independent international students are anticipated to arrive, the following guidelines apply:
  • All travel plans and dates for independent international students must be submitted to the ISP office well in advance of travel to Winnipeg. 
  • A copy of the quarantine plan that the student will submit to Canada Border Services must also be provided to the ISP office. 
  • Upon arrival in Winnipeg, independent international students will be asked to confirm their arrival by calling or emailing the ISP office. 
  • Registration of independent international students in schools will not occur until after the student has completed all mandatory self-quarantine or self-isolation plans. These dates will be scheduled by the ISP office.
  • Scheduling and timetabling of new students may require additional time to comply with distancing and cohort limitations. Independent international students will be advised that this may take several weeks or more.  

Travel Restrictions and Denied Study Permits

Given current travel restrictions, the limited availability of international flights, and limited granting of study permits to international students, LRSD will offer the following to students who are unable to arrive in Canada for their intended program of study in LRSD:
  • Students can defer their registration until a later date.
  • Students can cancel without penalty. 

Online learning options will not be made available to international students who are unable to travel to Winnipeg.

Staff Services

The LRSD Employee Leave Information Memo contains important information on employee leaves due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


An employee will be entitled to an unpaid leave of absence, if due to COVID-19 they cannot work for an extended period of time because they are providing primary care and support to a dependent family member. This also includes care or support of their child as a result of the closure of a school or premises where childcare is provided: 
  • The employee is to submit their request for an unpaid leave in writing to Lisa Aitken or Jennifer Hume (Clerical) and copy their school administrator/supervisor.
  • The employee will provide information on the reason for the leave, start and end date, and reasonable verification of the necessity of their request for leave.  
  • The employee may be eligible for federal government benefits. 

If the employee is home because of an ill partner or unwell children: 

  • Depending on the symptoms and situation related to the illness, the employee is to call Health Links and follow their directive. 
  • Family Leave should be used as defined in the Collective Agreement and reported in AMS. 
  • Complete a Leave Form for Family Leave with details and send to Lisa Aitken. 
  • Pending the situation, leave without pay may be used for absences and reported in AMS. 

If an employee is instructed to go into quarantine or to self-isolate by Public Health and/or Manitoba Health Links: 

  • Sick days will be used for absences with illness recorded as the reason in AMS. 
  • When all sick days have been used or if no sick days are available, the employee will be placed on an unpaid sick leave. 
  • For unpaid sick leave, the employee may be eligible for federal government benefits. 
  • Teachers onlyIf all eligible sick days have been used, teachers may be eligible for short-term or long-term benefits. 

If the employee is ill: 

  • The employee must stay at home. 
  • Use either the online Shared Health COVID-19 Screening tool or the printed PDF: https://sharedhealthmb.ca/files/covid-19-staff-screening-tool.pdf  
  • Depending on the symptoms related to the illness, the employee may be advised to contact Health Links or their health care provider and follow their directives. 
  • Sick days are be used for absences, and illness reported in AMS. 
  • When all sick days have been used or if no sick days are available, employee will be placed on an unpaid sick leave.
  • For unpaid sick leave, employee may be eligible for Federal Government Benefits. 
  • Teachers onlyIf all eligible sick days have been used, teachers may be eligible for short-term or long-term benefits. 

If administrator/supervisor is concerned an employee is ill at work, or if an employee becomes ill at work: 

  • Administrator/supervisor will send the employee home, or the employee will notify their administrator and go home. 
  • Depending on the symptoms related to the illness, the employee is to use either the online Shared Health COVID-19 Screening tool or the printed PDF: https://sharedhealthmb.ca/files/covid-19-staff-screening-tool.pdf and follow the recommendations it provides. 
  • Sick days should be used for absences, and illness reported in AMS. 
  • When all sick days have been used or there are no sick days available, the employee will be placed on an unpaid sick leave. 
  • For unpaid sick leave, employee may be eligible for Federal Government Benefits. 
  • Teachers only: If all eligible sick days have been used, teachers may be eligible for short-term or long-term benefits. 

If an employee travels to a high-risk area or to any destination to which the government or health authorities have advised against travel, whether international travel or otherwise, which is also deemed to be high-risk (Note: travel destinations may be identified as high-risk prior to, during, or at the conclusion of travel) for the transmission of COVID-19 will:  

  • Notify their direct supervisor of their intent to travel internationally, and  
  • Upon their return, will be required to undergo a 14- day self-isolation period before they can return to work or enter any school division property. The period of self-isolation will be unpaid.  
  • Depending on the circumstances, there may be other leaves under the collective agreement that can be accessed such as: discretionary leave; extra-curricular leave; vacation; family leave; and/or leave of absence without pay. 

If due to COVID-19 an employee believes they cannot report to work because an immune-compromised family member resides in the same house: 

  • The employee should contact their family member's medical physician for advice.  
  • If the medical physician advises that the employee cannot attend work due to the health risk to their family member, the employee can request a family status accommodation which will require documentation. 
  • Sick leave and/or an unpaid leave of absence may be approved for Family Status Leave. 
  • All requests should be submitted in writing to Lisa Aitken or Jennifer Hume (Clerical) and copy their school administrator/supervisor. 
  • The employee will provide information on the reason for the leave, start and end date, and reasonable verification of the necessity of their request for leave.  
  • The employee may be eligible for federal government benefits. 
  • Teachers only: If all eligible sick days have been used, teachers may be eligible for short-term or long-term benefits

If an employee refuses to work because they believe the workplace is unsafe as a result of COVID-19 they should follow Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) process for refusal to work due to health/safety concern. Employee Right to Refusal Work Procedure can be found within the employee portal in WSH or People Services. 

Refusal to work

If an employee whose assignment requires them to work at school/work location and they refuse to report to work because of an immune-compromised partner or child who cannot leave the home: 
  • The employee will need to complete the online COVID-19 Screening Tool assessment and follow the direction given. If the employee is advised to stay home: 
    • Sick days should be used for absences, and illness reported in AMS. 
    • When all sick days have been used or there are no sick days available, the employee will be placed on an unpaid sick leave. 
    • For long-term unpaid sick leave, employees should apply to CERB. The Benefit is available from March 13 to October 3.
    • Teachers only: if no available sick days, may be eligible for short-term or long-term benefits. 

If an employee whose assignment requires them to work at school/work locations and refuses to report to work and stays home for reasons that have not been discussed or confirmed by Health Links: 
Medical Notes

Bill 55, The Employment Standards Code Amendment Act has suspended the requirement of a physician's certificate or medical note for the following employee leaves: maternity; compassionate care; unpaid leave organ donation; critical illness; long-term serious injury or illness; public health emergency leave.


The social relationships formed during recess are critical for students' health and well-being. In LRSD, we are using evidence-based strategies that ensure opportunities for healthy, meaningful play while minimizing the spread of the virus.

We continue to adapt current schedules, including recess breaks, to facilitate levels of physical distancing and promote smaller, more manageable groups.  

Read more about the importance of recess and recommendations to mitigate risk.  

Student and Family Preparedness

As mandated by Manitoba Education in Welcoming Our Students Back: Restoring Safe Schools, LRSD shall continue to promote student and family preparedness by:
  • Identifying students with disabilities and those who are vulnerable to disengage from school, developing and implementing strategies to re-engage them and prioritizing these students for five days a week in-class learning, where possible.
  • Communicating expectations for in-class attendance and participation in remote learning.
    • Students are expected to attend in-class learning. If remote learning is included as part of their learning plan, students will be expected to participate.
    • Students who are unable to return to school due to personal or family health risks factors related to COVID-19 continue to be supported in our Learning from Home School.
  • Developing comprehensive strategies for regular communication with families to raise awareness of the health and safety measures implemented at the school.
  • Ensuring the understanding that students should not attend school when sick or exhibiting symptoms of illness.
    • Refer to the online COVID-19 Screening Tool to determine if a person should contact Health Links.
    • In-class learning may be increased or suspended on short notice in response to changing public health advice

The following paragraphs detail specific measures that LRSD has implemented to achieve these goals.

Student Screening and Self-Assessment

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, this includes those entering from northern and Western Canada, and from west of Terrace Bay in Ontario, which under previous health orders did not require self-isolation. They are required to consult with Health Links prior to attending school and follow their directions.

Student Public Health Safety Protocols and Respiratory Etiquette

  • Students will use hand sanitizer or wash their hands immediately upon entry into the school.
  • Students will be instructed to follow all floor signage such as directional arrows or physical distancing spacing at all times within the school building.
  • Personal hygiene practices that minimize the risk of virus transmission must be always followed. These include:
    • covering the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow
    • immediately disposing of used tissues in a garbage container
    • washing hands frequently, particularly after coughing or sneezing without a tissue, touching frequently used surfaces such as door handles or taps as well as before and after eating
    • avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Cleaning and sanitizing of shared spaces are a priority in LRSD schools and facilities. Washrooms are cleaned on a regular basis according to health and safety guidelines.

Mask Etiquette

Non-medical masks can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Wearing non-medical masks is an additional layer of personal protection that can help prevent COVID-19 from spreading. For masks to be effective, they must be put on and removed properly. 

  • Before putting on a mask, wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Inspect the mask for damage or dirt. Any disposable masks that meet these criteria should be discarded properly. If the mask is reusable, ensure it is cleaned or repaired prior to use.
  • Apply the mask and adjust to your face without leaving gaps on the sides and ensuring to cover your mouth, nose and chin.
  • Avoid touching the mask while it is being worn.
  • If you need to remove your mask, wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Remove the mask by the straps behind your ears or head ensuring not to touch the front of the mask.
  • Pull the mask away from your face and dispose of it immediately into a garbage, or if reusable into a Ziplock bag or your personal backpack.
  • Wash your hands or apply alcohol-based sanitizer.

  • Do not use a mask that appears damaged or dirty.
  • Do not wear a loose mask.
  • Do not wear the mask under the nose.


Since the onset of the pandemic, LRSD has regularly gathered feedback by surveying stakeholders including:
  • Teachers/support staff regarding barriers impacting their work
  • Parents/guardians regarding the remote learning experience and to assess needs
  • School leaders regarding student and staff engagement

Our divisional website continues to provide the most up to date and comprehensive information for students and families. Since March 2020, our website has been updated as often as necessary to provide answers to frequently asked questions, important health protocols and the latest COVID-19 news. The total monthly visits to our website rose, on average, by 87 per cent during the months of March to June. 

LRSD's social media accounts also provide regular, real-time updates. Our following on all social media platforms has been growing steadily since March and has a combined average monthly reach of over 340,000, an increase of 192 per cent.

The division uses the MailChimp email platform to regularly communicate vital information to families.  

LRSD will continue to engage all stakeholders as we work on plans for a return to schools in the fall. We will also share the new and updated procedures for re-entry and gather feedback from all employee groups and various provincial organizations to support the safe return to school.

Learning Preparedness

As mandated by Manitoba Education in Welcoming Our Students Back: Restoring Safe Schools, LRSD has ensured learning preparedness by:
  • Planning for recovery learning.
  • Developing action plans to address students' recovery learning needs that are identified in the June 2020 report card and referring to the Recovery Learning Guidelines to inform this planning.
  • Adapting schedules to facilitate levels of physical distancing (outdoor classrooms, frequent and staggered hand-washing breaks, staggered recesses and lunch breaks, physical distancing measures in place in classrooms and bathrooms).
  • Planning for Blended Learning and Remote Learning models and referring to the list of learning resources for educators provided on the Manitoba Education website.

The following paragraphs detail specific measures that LRSD will implement to achieve these goals.

Manitoba Education Recovery Learning Principles

Manitoba Education defined Recovery Learning as the "process to enable Manitoba students to transition back from remote learning to classroom learning in schools, while addressing their mental and physical wellbeing and academic success." Manitoba Education highlighted the following principles for school teams to reference as we plan for students' return to school:

  • When in-class learning resumes in September, schools planned for a period of reorientation to classroom routines, rebuilding community and relationships, and planning for instruction. In September 2020, educators used their existing assessment processes, along with the information provided on recovery needs on the June 2020 report card.
  • Dialogue between the previous year's teacher(s) and the current teacher(s) aided in transition planning. Students added insights about the student's experiences with remote learning. Schools ensured that there are sufficient supports in place to facilitate this dialogue, as well as joint planning among colleagues, parents, and students.
  • Recovery learning was personalized according to the opportunities and constraints of the school year. Schools were encouraged to develop a flexible learning approach and allow the implementation of recovery learning to vary according to the needs of the students, the opportunities and constraints of the school schedule, and available resources (see the UNESCO COVID-19 Response Sector Brief: Prepare for School Reopening.)

Manitoba Education required that the following considerations be incorporated into planning for the return to school:

  • School teams reviewed the diverse student and educator experiences that will have unfolded during the suspension of classes and intentionally addressed the mental wellbeing of the school community upon their return to school.
  • Students who were most at risk due to the disruption of their learning were provided additional supports when classes resumed so that they could reach their full learning potential within their grade level.       
  • Schools needed to plan for varying lengths of time, as well as diverse models and strategies for recovery learning, depending on student needs, grade levels, subject areas, and school contexts.
  • There have been additional waves of COVID-19 over the last ten months, and recovery learning and alternate ways of addressing learning needs have been considered as part of this planning.

Gathering Baseline Information about Students

In a collaborative position paper between New Pedagogies for Deep Learning and Microsoft Education title "Education Reimagined: The Future of Learning," Michael Fullan and colleagues state that:

Teachers can ease the social pathway by:
  • facilitating connection and conversation
  • re-creating norms that will allow students to feel psychologically safe in an optimistic and efficacious learning environment
  • inviting each student's perspective by asking open questions so that each student feels connected to the learning community
  • providing trauma-informed learning for staff, parents, and students, enabling everyone in the school community to recognize and respond mindfully during this unusual situation
  • appointing a caring adult to build a relationship for those students you know to be vulnerable 

Assessment practices that prioritize emotional well-being are what is needed during school reopening. Some recommendations include:
  • Be cautious of using diagnostic quizzes and high stakes evaluation that will heighten the stress for some learners and therefore will not provide meaningful or accurate direction for the teacher
  • Consider formative, low-threat assessments-for-learning to reveal students' strengths and needs
  • Facilitate interviews that invite student and family perspectives. These richer strategies will engage student voices positively and uncover unanticipated insights.

Responding to the Needs of Students

An important aspect of recovery learning that differs from a typical school year relates to mental health promotion and well-being. See the documents:

Strategies to support the mental health and well-being of students should be documented using the Class Profile template; in instances where needs are particularly complex, a student-specific plan may be necessary.

School teams are encouraged to continue to focus on establishing the essential outcomes for each curricular area with baseline assessments and learning plans that fit individual, small group and whole class needs.
  • Teacher teams will establish essential outcomes and determine what all students must know, understand and be able to do as a result of each unit of instruction.
  • Schools will structure the school day to allow for recovery and extension learning activities by all available staff and as a result of the various team structures put in place to respond to students' individual, small group and whole class learning needs.
  • Schools will plan for those students who require additional time and programming to meet the needs of their recovery learning plans. Intervention efforts will be monitored and adjusted, as needed, using a regular cycle of data collection and sharing.

Looking to Data

Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman have designed a well-researched process for structuring conversations centred on data (see Collaborative Learning Cycle presented in Got Data? Now What?: Creating and Leading Cultures of Inquiry, 2012; Printable reproducible available here; English summary available here; French summary available here).

Printable reproducible resources available here.

Planning for Recovery Learning is Not New

Each year, students arrive in classrooms with varying abilities. To mitigate this reality and thus promote the success of each student, schools employ several valuable processes, notably:
  • referencing learning goals indicated on the final report card
  • holding transition meetings between the teachers of the current and previous years
  • holding staggered Opening Day Conferences to learn more about students directly from families
  • conducting baseline assessments and addressing gaps in learning by re-teaching concepts before introducing new content
  • preparing class profiles to document Tier 1, 2 & 3 education strategies

Teachers have had access to a report in Tyler that indicates which students in their class have recovery learning needs in a particular subject:

Not applicable – EYE-DA results will inform transition planning

Grade 1
Literacy, Numeracy & Science

Grades 2-9
English Language Arts, French Language Arts, Math

Grades 10-12
English Language Arts, French Language Arts, Math, Science

To know more about the specific recovery learning needs of each student, teachers have:

  • referred to the June report card
  • communicated with last year's teacher, parents, and students
  • conducted baseline assessments

just as they have always done.

To promote student success, teachers have:

  • adapted their teaching practices to meet the needs of their students
  • articulated clear learning targets
  • provided ongoing feedback
  • adjusted learning targets or set new learning targets
  • ensured regular communication with students and their families
  • documented strategies to support academic learning using the Class Profile template

just as they have always done.

Planning Structures

School teams have considered the team structures that they utilize to meet student needs to streamline the intervention and ensure a focused approach to addressing recovery learning needs with an expedited timeframe:
  • Same course or grade-level teams
    • For example, all the math teachers who support a group of students or all of the Grade 2 teachers in a school form a collaborative team to design baseline assessments and learning moves to address identified essential outcomes.
  • Vertical teams
    • Link teachers with those who teach content above or below their grade level to support differentiated responses to the range of recovery learning needs.
  • Electronic teams
    • Use remote technology platforms to create connections amongst teachers across Families of Schools and/or the division to co-create learning plans for like students.
  • Interdisciplinary teams
    • Create cross-curricular teams of teachers where the focus of planning is on a shared student; look for opportunities to address shortfalls in literacy
  • Logical links
    • Group teachers together based on similar focus (Could be cross-grade, cross-curricular, across schools, etc.). (see Whatever it Takes, R. Dufour, 2004)

Planning Support

To support the return of students to school, the Learning Team has produced Recovery Learning in LRSD: Planning for Student Success Upon the Return to School. The document proposes strategies to:
  • build a classroom community;
  • establish routines; and
  • assess baseline skills and knowledge in the areas of literacy and numeracy.

At each grade band, consideration for essential outcomes and powerful student-centred learning strategies are shared. Play-based, inquiry and project-based teaching strategies are emphasized.

The document is not prescriptive and does not presume to have all the answers; however, it is hoped that teachers will use the structure as a planning tool, selecting sample strategies that work for their students and inserting others from their repertoire. It is for this reason that the document is being shared in both Word and .pdf formats.

The document promotes a framework that is familiar to LRSD teachers, namely The First Six Weeks of School from Responsive Classroom. With its emphasis on both academic and social emotional wellbeing, this framework aligns well with provincial expectations related to recovery learning. 

The Learning Team looks forward to supporting teacher teams as they collaborate to plan and implement recovery learning. Requests for assistance should be directed to your school principal.

Planning for Kindergarten

Manitoba Education recently released Learning and Joy in the Pandemic: Manitoba Kindergarten Practice Resource to help educators prepare for the fall. The document answers the question "How do we mediate COVID-19 through the lens of developmentally appropriate pedagogical practices?" 

Suggestions from Manitoba Education include:  
  • Reaching out in new ways to families since many traditional orientation events will be cancelled
  • Strengthening communication channels with families and actively promoting engagement 
  • Adapting meaningful child-focused play and teacher-guided learning to adhere to safety guidelines 
  • Continuing to encourage and focus on purposeful play 

Young learners achieve their Kindergarten outcomes best when teachers value child-centredness, purposeful play and inquiry, and authentic literacy and numeracy experiences that also support social interactions, community building, and children's growing ability to regulate emotions and behaviours. In LRSD, we will consider the importance of social and emotional well-being as carefully as we do children's physical well-being. 

School Staff Preparedness

As mandated by the Manitoba government in Welcoming Our Students Back: Restoring Safe Schools and Manitoba's back-to-school plan, LRSD ensured staff preparedness and compliance with Public Health orders and guidelines in all our schools and workplaces by:
  • Orienting staff to new public health protocols that must be followed in the school, before resuming in-class learning. 
  • Including all staff in orientation, including bus drivers, custodial staff, etc. 
  • Providing orientation to volunteers, if they are on-site in a limited way, to ensure they receive orientation when they begin. 
  • Using the online COVID-19 screening tool to inform staff orientation.
  • Presenting information on self-monitoring, managing a suspected case of COVID-19, managing shared spaces, etc.
  • Identifying staff who may need to work at home due to underlying health concerns that make them more vulnerable to exposure to COVID-19 and making any necessary adjustments.
  • Planning for health and safety training that may be required, and ensuring that professional learning focuses on COVID-19 pandemic priority areas, including recovery learning, collaborative planning, mental health and well-being and remote learning strategies.

The following paragraphs detail specific measures that LRSD implemented to achieve these goals.

Modifying Behaviours That Mitigate Risk

To ensure the safety of the work environment for all, staff will adhere to the Safe Work Procedures and keep abreast of updated procedures and protocols.

In the event that a family member of the staff person in the same household reports that they have received a positive test for COVID-19:
  • The staff member will immediately advise their direct supervisor.
  • The school and division will work with public health officials.

Staff Screening and Self-Assessment

Staff members must be in good health to attend work. Before leaving for the worksite all staff are to use the Manitoba Health COVID-19 Screening Tool, using the following guidelines:
  • 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, this includes those entering from northern and Western Canada, and from west of Terrace Bay in Ontario, which under previous health orders did not require self-isolation they are required to consult with Health Links prior to attending school..

As indicated by Manitoba Education in Welcoming Our Students Back – Restoring Safe Schools, arrangements will need to be made for teachers, administrators and school staff who may be at higher risk of COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions or other risk factors.

Reporting and Contact Tracing

To facilitate contact tracing, staff attendance will be tracked through the Absence Management System (AMS).

Visitors to schools and itinerant Divisional Employees will, upon entry to each worksite, sign-in on the Entry Log with the date, name, and entry time, and the location(s) being accessed in the building. Staff will need to sign-out their departure time on the Entry Log.

Personal Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

 It is especially important to clean your hands:
  • after coughing or sneezing
  • when caring for a sick person
  • before, during and after you prepare food
  • before eating
  • after toilet use
  • when hands are visibly dirty

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve. Throw used tissues in the garbage and immediately wash your hands, or use an alcohol-based hand cleanser. 

Physical distancing measures to reduce your risk of infection:
  • Minimize prolonged (more than 10 minutes), close (less than two metres) contact between your co-workers and other individuals in public. 
  • Where possible, meet with colleagues online or via telephone instead of in person. 
  • Avoid greetings that involve touching, such as handshakes.
  • Avoid travel, crowded places, and events, especially if you are at higher risk (e.g., seniors and those with underlying medical conditions).
  • Disinfect frequently used surfaces in your workspace.
  • Follow public health advice related to self-monitoring and self-isolation if you have been exposed to COVID-19 through travel or contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

Mask Etiquette

Staff will follow the same Public Health Safety Mask Etiquette as students. Non-medical masks can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Wearing non-medical masks is an additional layer of personal protection that can help prevent COVID-19 from spreading. In order for masks to be effective, they must be put on and removed properly. 

Safety-Related Adaptations to Teaching and Learning

The Province of Manitoba has issued the following directives for learning and teaching safely during the current public health situation:

LRSD is committed to ensuring that all staff are aware of such guidelines and that all guidelines are updated regularly and implemented faithfully. As more guidelines are developed and approved by the Province, LRSD will communicate them to staff and support their implementation.

Professional Learning

The following professional learning norms (articulated in Policy GCIA) shall guide our professional growth as we respond to the ever-evolving public health situation.
  • Student learning informs professional learning.
  • Professional learning is most efficacious when it's personalized, differentiated, job-embedded and collaborative.
  • Professional learning is a continuous, collaborative inquiry:
    • designed to incrementally improve practice;
    • informed by student learning data;
    • grounded in current research; and
    • guided by both the school's and division's multi-year strategic plans.
  • Professional learning must be framed by continuous cycles of assessment, planning, and action that measure the impact of collective teaching practice on student learning and lead to greater collective efficacy.


Since the onset of the pandemic, LRSD has strived to communicate effectively with staff through:
  • Emails
  • Memos
  • Social media
  • News stories on the internal portal and public-facing website
  • Announcements in pertinent Microsoft Teams channels
  • Presentations by principals/supervisors at staff meetings
  • Community Townhalls (link to the stories)

In addition, LRSD's Senior Leadership Team continues to gather feedback from staff through various surveys (for example, surveys of various employee groups regarding barriers impacting their return to work) and direct consultations (primarily with members of the Leadership Team and leaders of employee groups, but also through Microsoft Teams meetings with all school staff). 

Our divisional website will continue to provide the most up-to-date and comprehensive information for staff. Other forms of communication will be used, as deemed appropriate. 

It is anticipated that public health orders will continue to evolve, sometimes suddenly, prompting an immediate change to existing practices. It is essential that staff stay informed. Staff are expected to check their email regularly. Should the need arise, schools will activate their emergency phone tree to ensure timely communication with staff when class is not in session.

Staff must advise their supervisor immediately should they learn that they or a member of their household has tested positive for COVID-19 or that they or a member of their household has been in close contact with someone that has tested positive for COVID-19. Staff should note their supervisor's contact information so that such communication can occur after school hours, if necessary.

A Caring and Collaborative Approach

No one has previously experienced a global pandemic of this scale. We are living an unprecedented time of dynamic change that requires caring, collaborative, evidence-informed, agile and solution-focused thinking.

Even when public health orders and guidelines are loosened, the continued vigilant practice of screening for symptoms, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing, cohorting, and mask wearing will be required to mitigate health risks.

Most importantly, we need to recognize the likelihood that the remainder of the current school year will bring continued uncertainty, uncertainty that may continue into 2021-2022. We may find ourselves implementing Critical (Red) measure or a hybrid (as was the case from January 4 to 15, 2021). No matter the level of response to the pandemic in which we find ourselves and regardless of the physical location in which we learn and teach, equity and inclusion will remain our guiding principles. 

Collaboration among education systems, schools, staff, and families has been key to our ability to thrive and flourish under extraordinarily challenging circumstances. 

We continue to engage in a collective process of reflection to strengthen what has worked and to respond to emerging needs.

Our approach to navigating 2020-2021 and beyond will continue to focus on two interconnected purposes that are the core mandate in LRSD: learning and well-becoming.

Christian Michalik, Superintendent 


 Click here to view a list of references.

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