All Winnipeg public schools closed, says Manitoba teachers’ union
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society is calling on the provincial government to declare Code Red and switch all public schools in Winnipeg to distance learning.
Cases of more contagious variants are increasing and affecting young Manitobans, union president James Bedford said in a press release on Thursday, urging the government to “use all means at our disposal to stop the spread of the virus and ensure safety of our children ”.
Passage to the critical level or code red of the province pandemic response system would serve as a breaker, allowing time for vaccines and other public health measures to take effect against the third wave, Bedford said.
Although the province of Manitoba is in Code Red, schools operate under Code Orange protocols.
Bedford accused Prime Minister Brian Pallister’s government of “endangering the lives” of students and school staff by continuing to deny teachers priority access for COVID-19 vaccines.
Now it’s too late, Beford said.
Even if all teachers were vaccinated today, it would be mid-May to the end of May before the vaccines became effective, he said in the statement.
The union suggests the mass switch to distance learning begins on May 4, giving teachers a few days to move from the classroom to online platforms, and families to care for children and other arrangements.
Bedford acknowledged the move would be disruptive to teachers, students and families, but said it was essential in the interests of public health and safety.
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society will monitor test positivity rates in communities outside of Winnipeg and expand the code red call as needed, Bedford said in the statement.
ND will vaccinate teachers
Pallister announced Thursday that Manitoba and North Dakota have expanded their vaccination partnership to now include teachers and other education workers from across the province.
Details on how it will work are still being worked out, but will be revealed early next week, he said.
The plan will involve teachers crossing the U.S. border to get the shot, Pallister said.
They will be exempt from federal isolation requirements for people entering Canada after traveling abroad, he said.
After receiving a vaccine, the person must immediately return to the province.
“They’re not going shopping in Grand Forks, let’s be very clear about that,” Pallister said.
“Our goal here is obvious: we want to keep our schools open. Our children learn best when they are in a school, but we need that environment in that school to be as safe as possible.
“And as soon as possible, we need to get this vaccine administered to our staff.”
Asked about his response to the call to close schools, Pallister said bluntly “that’s it.”
Since it takes time for immunity to build from a vaccine, reporters asked Pallister why he wouldn’t consider a brief breaker as proposed by MTS.
“The first piece of advice we received from our education experts across the province is to allow our children to stay in school,” he said, adding that distance learning was not working well for them. some pupils.
“They need the structure of a classroom and they need direct contact with an educator.… Not going to school is an interruption,” he said.
“So when you break the switch, I can’t help but think… that the breakup could be the breakdown of the teacher-student relationship.”
Pallister and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum first unveiled a cross-border vaccination partnership last week, for Manitoba truck drivers who transport goods across the border.
The North Dakota Department of Health has set up a vaccination post at a rest area near the freeway near Drayton, ND staffed with nurses and others to administer vaccines to truckers at no cost for Manitoba.
Burgum said it was important to get as many people vaccinated as possible for the greater good of all.
2 other schools become distant
In the meantime, two more schools in Winnipeg are embarking on distance education for at least two weeks.
The Pembina Trails School Division announced that schools in St. Avila and South Pointe will begin online learning on Monday. Classroom education will be open to children with additional needs and children of essential service workers.
In a statement sent to CBC News, the division said it hopes the move is an interim measure and everyone will be able to return to class on May 17.
The move comes after Marie-Anne Gaboury School in the city’s Louis Riel School Division announced on April 24 that it will be taking distance learning for two weeks, starting this week, due to cases of COVID-19.
To date, there have been 12 positive cases at St. Vital school, among students and staff, school division principal Christian Michalik told CBC.
In a letter to parents, he wrote that if classes at the school continued, the division would likely be unable to adequately staff the school due to the spread of the disease.
At least four other schools in the province have also switched to distance learning due to the third wave of the pandemic.
By province map of school age cases and school staff cases, South Pointe reported three cases of COVID-19 in the two weeks leading up to April 26, including one that was a variant of concern.
The school on Kirkbridge Drive has nearly 1,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8.
St. Avila, which has more than 300 kindergarten to grade 6 students, has reported two cases of COVID-19 without a variant during the same period.
“We are working to support our schools in navigating COVID cases,” the division told CBC News.
“Despite our community’s best efforts, to support health guidelines, we have made a decision to minimize community transmission and proactively prevent staff shortages” by turning to distance learning.
Asked why the division did not immediately begin home learning, Pembina Trails director Ted Fransen said the delay was “out of respect for our families who needed a little time. to adjust their schedules to accommodate a fairly significant change in their routine. “
While the return date may change, Fransen hopes it won’t. Distance learning is not how he wants the school year to end.
“It is our fundamental belief that the best place for our students is in the classroom, at a safe distance, being taught by a qualified teacher. We want our students to come back as soon as possible,” he said, adding that a two week period is the typical length of self-isolation that public health uses.
“We have decided to follow him.”