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COVID-19 EDUCATION PLAN

All students are being welcomed back to full-time in-class learning in Manitoba's Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools


Note: The following sections were updated to reflect the current public health measures:

  • Vaccinations
  • Extracurricular Activities
    A document (COVID-19: Public Health Orders for Indoor Youth Sports: Provincial Implementation Guidance) detailing the process for youth aged 12 to 17 years attending indoor sporting and recreational facilities is now available for use.
  • Physical Education and Sports
    A document (COVID-19: Public Health Orders for Indoor Youth Sports: Provincial Implementation Guidance) detailing the process for youth aged 12 to 17 years attending indoor sporting and recreational facilities is now available for use.

Pandemic Response System Level for K-12 Schools

Preparedness for the Fourth Wave – Additional Preventative Measures (adobe pdf 589 KB) – Updated October 1, 2021


Planning for the 2021/2022 School Year

Introduction

Manitobans have made significant progress in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The 4-3-2-One Great Summer reopening plan set ambitious vaccination milestones, which Manitobans met ahead of schedule.

Within the Kindergarten to Grade 12 education system, students, school staff and members of the school community have followed public health advice and kept schools a safe place for learning. In the 2020/21 school year, transmission of the virus in schools remained low.

The fundamentals will remain important as we move through the school year. The fundamentals will continue to guide us on lowering our risk and will help to reduce Manitoba’s COVID-19 cases throughout the province and our schools. For information on the fundamentals, please see: Province of Manitoba - Focus on the Fundamentals.

The 2021/22 plan builds upon successes from the last school year. Four priority areas will guide planning as students and staff return to class:

  • following health and safety measures recommended by public health
  • promoting mental health and well-being
  • assessing and addressing learning impacts
  • vaccinating Manitobans through outreach and promotion

This plan will allow schools to reopen on September 7, 2021 at Yellow (Caution) level of the Manitoba Pandemic Response System. This means that all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students will return to full-time in-class learning with contingency plans in place.


Pandemic Response System - Green Caution

The spread of COVID-19 is at low to moderate levels.

Household and close contact transmission is occurring in Manitoba.

There may be multiple and isolated small cluster outbreaks (or a small number of larger outbreaks) that are mostly contained.

Community transmission is low and/or localized/geographically limited.


Public health measures have been adapted to reflect the changing public health situation.

While current case numbers and vaccination rates are encouraging, there is a need to plan with public health officials regarding increased cases or a resurgence of COVID-19, as well as a resurgence of other respiratory viruses that may resemble COVID-19 symptoms. Schools need to plan for and be ready to implement additional measures if required.

Manitoba Education and education stakeholders worked closely throughout the 2020/21 school year to develop and implement the provincial COVID-19 response for the Kindergarten to Grade 12 education system. This partnership was of critical importance to the success of the response. In 2021/22, education stakeholders will continue to be integral to response planning. Planning will focus on mental health, well-being, and learning within a context of safe and healthy schools.

Contingency Planning

The degree to which schools can remain open for in-class learning depends on several factors, such as vaccinations, variants of COVID-19 and the capacity of our health care system. We are committed to working with our public health and education partners to keep schools open for in-class learning.

Schools will plan to implement additional public health measures as outlined in the Caution (Yellow), Restricted (Orange) and Critical (Red) levels of the Manitoba Pandemic Response System.

As the level of risk changes, public health officials may identify regions or schools of concern. Schools will work with public health officials and Manitoba Education to implement the appropriate additional public health measures and contingency plans. Depending on the situation at the time, public health guidance may require modification to some provisions. School-wide shifts to remote learning will be a measure of last resort.

For symptomatic students who are required to stay home, smooth learning transitions will be needed. Classroom teachers will ensure these students stay connected to ongoing learning by providing at-home learning packages and/or remote learning until they are able to return to the classroom.

Manitoba Education will continue to work with educational partners to ensure school boards and their administrators are able to operate as the pandemic situation evolves. This may include periods of flexibility in the application of specific legislative and policy requirements and timelines, in line with public health guidance.

  • Manitoba Education will continue to assess where funding and other reporting requirements need to be adapted to reflect board and public health circumstances.
  • Manitoba Education will monitor and work with school divisions and funded independent schools to avoid any impacts or constraints in reporting enrolment.

The provincial Manitoba Education Standards for Remote Learning guidelines will be followed by schools in temporary remote learning to ensure students continue to learn and be assessed by their teachers. The guidelines can be found at Manitoba Education Standards for Remote Learning (pdf document 224 KB).

School Reopening Plans for Caution (Yellow), Restricted (Orange) and Critical (Red) Levels

Schools will be prepared to implement measures as outlined in Caution (Yellow), Restricted (Orange), and Critical (Red) levels of the Manitoba Pandemic Response System, as well as any additional public health measures in place at the time. The table below provides an overview of additional public health measures that may be required to ensure student and staff safety.

 

Public Health Measures

Caution (Yellow)

Restricted (Orange)

Critical (Red)

Instructional Programming

K to 8

  • All students are in full-time in-class learning. Full curriculum is being taught.
  • Modifications to delivery may be required as a result of current public health measures.
  • All students are in class learning to the greatest extent possible
  • Remote learning for all students is required. Schools are open for Kindergarten to Grade 6 students who are children of critical services workers who cannot make alternative care arrangements, students with special needs and students at risk.
  • Focus on literacy, numeracy and other curricular areas, as time and resources permit.
  • Small groups (5 to 6) may be rotated in for support and assessment purposes.
  • Classroom teacher provides remote learning to ALL students as per Manitoba Education Standards for Remote Learning.

9 to 12

  • All students are in class learning.
  • Full curriculum is being taught to ensure full credit attainment.
  • Modifications to program delivery may be required as a result of current public health measures.
  • Blended learning is required where two metres or six feet of physical distancing and cohorts with a minimum of one metre could not be achieved.
  • Full curriculum is being taught to ensure full credit attainment.
  • Modifications to program delivery may be required as a result of public health measures.
  • Move to remote learning.
  • Students with special learning needs and students at risk may be accommodated at school.
  • Small groups (5 to 6) may be rotated in for support and assessment purposes.
  • Classroom teacher provides remote learning to ALL students as per Manitoba Education Standards for Remote Learning.

Physical Distancing and Cohorts

  • Schools will use cohorts for Kindergarten to Grade 6 to assist with case management and to minimize exposure for students who are not yet eligible for vaccinations. There is the potential to move away from cohorts as the year progresses, depending on public health recommendations at the time.
  • Schools will manage the flow of people in common areas, including hallways and washrooms, to minimize crowding and allow for the ease of people passing through. Schools will continue the practice of staggered entrance and exit times, or use separate entrances (if feasible). Locker use should be limited or discontinued to avoid congregation in hallways.
  • Schools will be prepared to implement physical distancing requirements of one to two metres when recommended or directed by public health officials.

 

  • Schools must ensure two metres or six feet of physical distancing to the greatest extent possible, and adjust classroom space as necessary; excess furniture must be removed from classrooms to create additional space; other spaces within schools must be repurposed to accommodate more distancing (e.g., multipurpose rooms, shared spaces, common areas, and libraries).
  • Where physical distancing is not possible, students must remain within cohorts with a minimum distance of one metre.
  • Other physical distancing and cohort measures found under the Caution (Yellow) level continue to be followed.
  • Two metres or six feet of physical distancing must be maintained for students who are in-class learning.
  • Multiple groups are allowed to operate in a school setting at the same time, provided these groups can be segregated to prevent contact with each other. The use of separate entrances/exits and staggered drop-off/pick-up schedules should be employed to minimize congestion and mixing of groups.
  • Other physical distancing and cohort measures found under the Caution (Yellow) level continue to be followed.

PPE (Masks)

  • Masks are mandatory for all students, staff and visitors while indoors and while riding school buses.
  • Manitoba Education will work with public health officials to determine the level of PPE required for staff who are supporting students who require interventions or supports that must be delivered in close proximity. Existing guidance is to be followed.
  • The province will ensure masks and PPE are available to schools for use.
  • Mask use and any additional PPE usage will follow current public health recommendations and orders.

Transportation

  • Seating plans are required.
  • Where possible individuals from the same household occupy the same seat.
  • Any additional measures would align with public health recommendations and orders at the time.
  • Busing will be based on divisions' discretion. Urban, rural, and northern school divisions may transport children of critical service workers who do not have other means of transportation.
  • Any additional measures will align with public health recommendations and orders.

Field Trips and Extra-Curricular Activities

  • These activities are permitted in accordance with public health guidance and orders. Any change will follow public health recommendations and orders at the time.
  • Any additional measures will follow public health recommendations and orders at the time.

Assemblies and Gatherings

  • Type and size of gatherings will align with public health recommendations and orders for indoor gatherings at the time; smaller grade-specific or cohorted assemblies are recommended.
  • Any additional measures will follow public health recommendations and orders at the time.

Visitors and Community Use of Schools

  • Visitors, volunteers, and community use of schools are permitted, provided they adhere to public health recommendations and orders at the time.
  • School divisions and schools will ensure that any required public health recommendations and orders are followed by the users of the facilities.
  • Schools will ensure proper documentation of visitors is implemented to support case and contact management.
  • Any additional measures will follow public health recommendations and orders at the time.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Cleaning and disinfecting will focus on high-touch surfaces and common areas but frequency can return to normal practices. Washrooms are the exception, as they require more intensive cleaning.
  • Schools will be prepared to enhance cleaning and disinfection measures and protocols when required.
  • Schools will ensure the following:
    • Monitor hand hygiene supplies to ensure an ample supply at all sinks in washroom and kitchen areas.
    • Continue to implement touchless water-drinking practices, including the use of water bottles and touchless water fountains where available.
    • Return bus cleaning to pre-COVID practices.
    • Perform good hand hygiene after waste removal. No-touch waste receptacles are preferred.
  • Health Canada has posted a list of disinfectants shown to be effective against COVID-19.
  • Any additional measures will follow public health recommendations and orders at the time.

Food Handling

  • Only school staff will handle, prepare, and serve food, following all safe food handling protocols.
  • Utensils should be used.
  • Remove shared food containers from eating areas. If using single serve packets of condiments, provide them directly to students. Use prepackaged snacks and serve them directly to students.
  • Open kitchen and cafeteria areas to eat, but avoid overcrowding.
  • Ensure proper hand hygiene practices.
  • Food and nutrition courses involving food preparation with students may continue if supervised by qualified staff who follow industry standards.
  • The use of microwaves is acceptable provided proper hand hygiene is followed before and after use. Microwaves must be cleaned in accordance with regular scheduled cleaning for high-touch surfaces.
  • Any additional measures will follow public health recommendations and orders at the time.

Sharing Toys, Manipulatives, and Use of Libraries

  • Students can share toys and manipulatives. Ensure hand hygiene before and after use.
  • Shared play stations (e.g., water tables and sand tables) are permitted, provided good hand hygiene before and after use is practised.
  • School and classroom libraries are open for use. Ensure good hand hygiene before and after use.

 

  • Any additional measures will follow public health recommendations and orders at the time.

Ventilation

  • Provincial guidance will be followed.

Music, Wind Instruments and Singing Indoors

  • Wind instruments and indoor singing are permitted.
  • Assess ventilation, strive for 2 metres of physical distancing; however, if unable to do so, then distance to the greatest extent possible, and consider outdoor classrooms as weather permits.
  • Sharing of music stands and sheet music is permitted, provided good hand hygiene practices are followed.
  • Instruments should not be shared. If sharing instruments and accessories is required for equity purposes, then they will be thoroughly cleaned between users. When individuals wash their hands before and after using the item, and the item is thoroughly cleaned after use, music accessories (e.g., drums sticks, mallets) may be shared.
  • Any additional measures will follow public health recommendations and orders at the time.

 

  • Any additional measures will follow public health recommendations and orders at the time.

two people with a doublesided arrow pointing to each

Communication

The success of the upcoming school year and student achievement depends in part on parents, caregivers, and students being informed about new and emerging protocols.

Manitoba Education has taken steps to have parents and educators kept up-to-date with the latest information by providing the following:

  • Feedback from the public, schools, and divisions is always welcome. The COVID-19 Response Unit responds to queries and can be reached by email at educovid19@gov.mb.ca.
  • Regular updates will be sent to schools and school divisions.
  • COVID-19 website provides updates and new information as it becomes available.
  • Schools and school divisions are available to families should they have questions or concerns regarding daily activities for their child(ren).

Manitoba Education will continue to work closely with public health officials, schools, and school divisions to provide the timeliest information possible.


public health measures

Public Health Measures

Cohorts / Groups

For the fall of 2021, cohorts will be used in Kindergarten to Grade 6 to assist with contact tracing and minimize exposure.

There is the potential to move away from cohorts as the year progresses, depending on public health recommendations at the time.

  • Cohorts involve keeping groups of students (e.g., classes) together and avoiding interactions with other groups.
  • Maximum cohort size is to be no more than 75 students. There is no limit on the number of cohorts in a school, as long as distinct cohorts of 75 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 with members from other cohorts as much as possible.
  • 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.
  • Different cohorts/groups should not be in shared spaces at the same time. Where this is not possible, physical distancing between groups is required. It is important to maintain at least four metres between groups or cohorts of children (i.e., two groups of children can be in the same area, provided the groups do not intermingle and four metres of space is maintained between the two groups).
  • Keep daily records that include the names of students, staff, and volunteers of cohorts.

Morning and afternoon or alternate day pre-school and Kindergarten classes are considered separate cohorts.

  • Note that in the event of an exposure to COVID-19, it may be necessary for all individuals in the cohort to self-isolate if exposure has occurred throughout the cohort. Schools are encouraged to keep the cohort size as small as feasible to avoid large group disruptions to in-person learning.

The fundamentals will remain important as we move through the school year. The fundamentals will continue to guide us on lowering our risk and will help to reduce Manitoba’s COVID-19 cases throughout the province and our schools. For information on the fundamentals, please see: Province of Manitoba - Focus on the Fundamentals.

Hygiene Practices

Handwashing with soap and water for a minimum of 15 to 20 seconds is the recommended hand hygiene practice. Staff and students must engage in frequent hand hygiene, including at the following times:

  • the start of the day and before going home
  • before and after recess
  • after going to the washroom and helping children with washroom routines after a diaper change (both children and staff)
  • before and after preparing food
  • before and after microwave use
  • before eating or drinking
  • after getting hands dirty
  • after wiping nose or handling dirty tissues
  • after coughing, sneezing, or blowing nose
  • after soothing a crying child
  • before and after putting on and taking off a mask
  • before and after being on a bus
  • after cleaning tasks (staff)
  • before and after playful learning with books, toys and other materials in Early Years classrooms

School staff should help young children to ensure handwashing is done correctly.

Where possible, encourage and supervise hand hygiene and make alcohol-based hand sanitizer available at all building access points and throughout the facility. Young children require supervision when using alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Schools will ensure the on-going practice of hand hygiene stations at entrances and exits to school facilities and classrooms and encourage frequent usage.

Good hygiene practices can be taught in an age-appropriate and playful manner. One idea is to have timers to help ensure students wash for an adequate amount of time. See how many 15- to 20-second songs the children can identify. Be creative – engage the children in coming up with games and other ways to encourage everyone to wash their hands for 15 to 20 seconds.

Respiratory etiquette should be modelled, taught, and reinforced regularly. This includes coughing and sneezing into a tissue or sleeve, as well as properly and promptly disposing of any used tissues, and exercising proper hand hygiene.

Province of Manitoba - Guidance on hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette

Personal items (e.g., hats, hair accessories, lip balm, food, and drinks) should not be shared. Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes, and encourage children to do the same.

As part of these routine measures, signage should be posted and highly visible, and it should include visual cues that remind staff and children to perform hand hygiene (e.g., sneezing or coughing into their elbow, putting used tissues in a waste receptacle, and washing hands or using hand sanitizer immediately after using tissues). Several printable resources, including posters and fact sheets, are available online at the following websites:

Government of Manitoba COVID-19 Resources
Shared Health Manitoba COVID-19 Posters

The fundamentals will remain important as we move through the school year. The fundamentals will continue to guide us on lowering our risk and will help to reduce Manitoba’s COVID-19 cases throughout the province and our schools. For information on the fundamentals, please see: Province of Manitoba - Focus on the Fundamentals.

Additional Resources:

Immunization and Testing Requirements

On September 24, 2021, public health officials issued orders requiring all designated provincial public service employees who have ongoing or prolonged contact with vulnerable populations, including children, to undergo frequent COVID-19 testing if they do not provide proof of full vaccination. The orders come into effect on October 18, 2021.

For the Kindergarten to Grade 12 education sector, the definition of designated employees includes all staff and practicum students working in Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools and facilities: teachers, administrators, educational support staff, and other staff working in schools and directly with students, including bus drivers, custodians, and child care staff working in school-based early learning and child care facilities. The order also applies to childcare, health care, and public servants and funded-agency employees who work in high-risk settings.

Designated employees who have not provided proof of vaccination to their administrator or employer must not attend their workplace unless they have provided a negative test result and less than 48 hours have passed. Moreover, administrators/employers must not allow the designated employee to attend their workplace unless the employee provides the administrator with proof of vaccination; or the administrator is satisfied the employee is acting in compliance with the testing provisions outlined in the public health order.

Anyone who is not fully vaccinated by October 18 will be required to undergo testing until such a time they provide proof that they are fully vaccinated.

The public health orders do not require vaccination as a condition of employment.

Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, is part of a layered approach to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in schools. The use of PPE should be incorporated along with other public health measures and guidance, including practising frequent hand hygiene, screening for symptoms, staying home when sick, using cohorts (especially for Kindergarten to Grade 6 classrooms), practicing physical distancing to the greatest extent possible (especially in common areas) and supporting vaccine outreach and uptake. These measures are intended to keep schools safe and open, so we can have all students back to full-time, in-class learning.

On August 24, 2021, public health officials announced mandatory mask use in all indoor public spaces, including schools for all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students. This requirement includes wearing masks in the classroom and while riding the bus. Masks may be removed indoors where there is physical distancing of 2 metres (6 feet) for the purpose of eating, drinking, and for short, infrequent mask breaks. Mask use during extracurricular school sports should follow public health guidance for sports in place at the time. Masks can be removed when outside.

Schools and divisions should continue to work through their existing processes to support students and families in adhering to the mask requirement within schools and prioritize in-class learning, while ensuring that any established guidance on exemptions are followed.

Mask exemption policies are outlined in the linked document: Guidance on Mask Exemptions (pdf document 199 KB).

The requirements for mask use or other public health measures may change based on a number of factors, such as case numbers, data on severe outcomes, test positivity rates, health system capacity, the extent of community transmission, and vaccine uptake.

Public health officials will continue to monitor closely and will adjust guidance or requirements by public health orders as needed, which may include additional requirements for certain schools, communities, and regions. Any changes will be determined by public health officials and communicated to school leaders.

If public health officials determine that there is an outbreak or transmission within the school, there may be recommendations for all teachers and staff to wear medical masks and eye protection for a specific amount of time until the outbreak/transmission is over.

The fundamentals will remain important as we move through the school year. The fundamentals will continue to guide us on lowering our risk and will help to reduce Manitoba’s COVID-19 cases throughout the province and our schools. For information on the fundamentals, please see: Province of Manitoba - Focus on the Fundamentals.

The collection, storage, and use of personal health information must adhere to requirements in The Personal Health Information Act. Schools should maintain records of exemptions ensuring that rules for the protection of personal health information are followed.

Non-medical masks may be used; however, staff may choose to wear medical masks and/or eye protection if they determine that they are at higher risk for COVID-19 or when physical distancing is difficult to achieve. Masks and personal protective equipment will be available to schools for use.

For information on mask use for teachers and staff working in close proximity, refer to Guidance on Supporting Students Who Require Interventions or Supports that Must Be Delivered in Close Physical Proximity. (pdf document 291 KB)

For information on mask use when a student becomes ill, refer to the section titled If a Child Exhibits Symptoms.

Resources to Support Mask Usage:

Physical Distancing

Physical distancing is encouraged to the greatest extent possible.

For Kindergarten to Grade 6 where cohorts are in place, physical distancing should be practised outside of the classroom/cohort and during non-instructional activities (e.g, entering/exiting the school, recess, lunch, breaks, etc.).  

All schools should avoid overcrowding in indoor common spaces and spread people out within the available space. Schools will manage the flow of people in common areas, including hallways, to minimize crowding and allow for the ease of people passing through. They will implement the practice of staggered entrance and exit times, or use separate entrances (if feasible). Schools will be prepared to implement physical distancing requirements of one to two metres when recommended or directed by public health officials.

The maximum number of individuals congregating in a common space for extracurricular indoor and outdoor settings, including staff meetings, must comply with the up-to-date public health orders.

The fundamentals will remain important as we move through the school year. The fundamentals will continue to guide us on lowering our risk and will help to reduce Manitoba’s COVID-19 cases throughout the province and our schools. For information on the fundamentals, please see: Province of Manitoba - Focus on the Fundamentals.

Screening

Screening for symptoms is critical to identify any potential cases of COVID-19 as quickly as possible before exposure to others. If someone is unsure whether they or their child should be tested and self-isolate, they should be directed to the COVID-19 Screening Tool.

All screening that identifies suspected cases of COVID-19 should be referred to Health Links – Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257.

Symptom and exposure screening must occur at the start of each day.

  • Staff must self-monitor daily for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Staff who have any symptoms of COVID-19 must stay home, isolate, and be excluded from work. Schools must maintain records of staff absenteeism.
  • Schools must communicate that parents and caregivers need to monitor their child daily for symptoms and exposures before sending them to school. Schools can also support children with self-screening upon arrival at school.
  • Parents and caregivers are responsible for ensuring their children are not displaying symptoms before sending them to school or on the bus. Screening questions are available at COVID-19 Screening Questions (pdf document 101 KB) to facilitate this process.

Signage, with exclusion criteria, must be posted at all entrances to the school.

A student or staff member who meets any of the exclusion criteria will not be admitted to the school and will be advised to immediately isolate and consult Health Links – Info Santé or their health care provider. More information is available on isolation requirements and exemptions.

A chronic stable cough, sneeze, runny nose, or nasal congestion that is unchanged and clearly linked to a known medical condition such as asthma or allergies, is not an absolute requirement for exclusion. As well, children who are crying can exhibit a runny nose. Changing or worsening of chronic symptoms requires isolation and contacting Health Links — Info Santé. Staff should exercise judgment based on the symptoms, but when in doubt, err on the side of caution by excluding the child and advising the parent or caregiver to contact Health Links — Info Santé or their health care provider.

Routine screening or monitoring of temperatures with a thermometer or other device to assess for fever is not recommended. Normal temperatures can vary throughout the day and can be different between individuals. It is recommended that parents and staff focus on monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19, as outlined in the Screening Tool.

Public Health Contact Information

There is information about self-screening and other public health resources on the Shared Health Manitoba website and the Province of Manitoba’s website.

A reminder that Health Links – Info Santé continues to be available to support anyone who might be experiencing symptoms or who has been asked to self-isolate (quarantine).
Call toll-free at 1-888-315-9257.

For more information about the fundamentals listed above, please visit Reduce the Risk and Prevent the Spread.

Staying Home When Sick

Schools can require students and/or staff who are showing symptoms to follow public health guidance on self-isolation and testing. For more information, please visit Isolation Requirements and Exemptions.

An up-to-date list of symptoms can be found at the Province of Manitoba's COVID-19 information page.

The fundamentals will remain important as we move through the school year. The fundamentals will continue to guide us on lowering our risk and will help to reduce Manitoba’s COVID-19 cases throughout the province and our schools. For information on the fundamentals, please see: Province of Manitoba - Focus on the Fundamentals.

Vaccinations

The campaign to vaccinate Manitobans aged 12 to 17 has been underway since May. Health Canada approval for vaccinating younger children (ages 5 to 11) has been granted.

Vaccine promotion activities for Manitoba youth are ramping up to support a safe return to schools. Manitoba will continue to focus on COVID-19 immunizations for school-aged youth.

For information on vaccines in Manitoba, please visit the Province of Manitoba – COVID-19 Vaccine page and go to the news release on vaccination of 5 to 11 year olds for information as well.

A recording of a Grade 7 to 12 student-led virtual town hall about vaccination is available at Raise Your Hand - #ProtectMB.

Additional Public Health Resources

A number of Manitoba public health resources are available to assist staff, students, and parents in COVID-19 health matters:


school operations during covid-19

School Operations during COVID-19

Activities with Animals and Pets

Animals and pets are permitted in school. Children and staff who handle animals should perform proper hand hygiene before and after handling animals (see Hygiene Practices section above). Ensure animal handlers who are visiting the school are screened. Follow the processes for visitors, and ensure all public health measures in place at the time are followed.

Assemblies and Gatherings

Minimize the use of assemblies and gatherings in schools to avoid crowding. Consider smaller grade-specific or cohorted assemblies. Types and size of gatherings and assemblies need to align with public health recommendations and orders at the time. Follow public health fundamentals.

Schools and school divisions may conduct opening exercises in accordance with public health measures at the time.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Cleaning and disinfecting will focus on high-touch surfaces and common areas, but cleaning schedules can return to normal practices. Washrooms are the exception as they require more intensive cleaning. These facilities should also be used in a staggered manner.
  • Ensure washrooms are cleaned and disinfected before and after school, as well as a third time during the day.
  • Schools will be prepared to enhance cleaning measures and protocols when required.
  • Schools will
    • monitor hand-cleaning supplies to ensure an ample supply at all sinks in washrooms, classrooms, entrances and exits, and kitchen areas
    • ensure lunchrooms are cleaned and disinfected at least twice daily (and more often as needed), and use these facilities in a staggered manner
    • continue to implement touchless water drinking practices, including the use of water bottles and touchless water fountains where available
    • resume pre-COVID-19 cleaning practices for school buses
    • perform good hand hygiene after waste removal (No-touch waste receptacles are preferred. Health Canada has posted a list of disinfectants shown to be effective against COVID-19 at Government of Canada – Hard-surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers (COVID-19): List of disinfectants with evidence for use against COVID-19.)

Community Use of Schools

Community use of schools will be allowed for activities permitted under the public health orders. School divisions and schools will need to ensure that any required public health measures outlined in the orders are followed by the users of the facilities. Schools will assess their ability to accommodate requests.

Schools will properly document visitors to support case and contact management.

School divisions and schools will need to assess their capacity to accommodate nursery, before- and after-school programs, and other education programming (e.g., driver training) while prioritizing in-class instruction and public health measures. Independent schools with shared space rental agreements will need to ensure that public health measures are followed if the owners of the buildings utilize space that is also used for the school’s purposes.

Early Learning and Child Care

Manitoba Education and Manitoba Families continue to work together with school divisions and the child care sector to ensure families can access child care within schools. Schools will work cooperatively with school-based child care centres to ensure that they can continue to operate. This includes protection of designated child care centre space for child care centres in schools, and an approach to supporting shared spaces, including cleaning protocols. For operational updates and directives, visit: Manitoba Families COVID-19 Notices and Circulars - Early Learning and Child Care Centres and Home-Based Child Care Providers.

Elders and Knowledge Keepers

Elders and Knowledge Keepers play a vital role in supporting schools across Manitoba to integrate Indigenous worldviews that contribute to the educational achievement, holistic well-being, and continued sense of belonging among students and staff in schools. The following steps highlight what schools can do to ensure the safe inclusion of members of this most vulnerable sector of our population upon their re-entry to school.

  • Schools should designate a representative to communicate and determine how Elders and/or Knowledge Keepers would like to proceed this school year, given the circumstances surrounding the pandemic. For example, are they more comfortable with supporting virtual learning opportunities off-site, or are they comfortable with the continuation of in-school learning practices on-site?
  • When presenting tobacco and offering gifts, physical distancing should be maintained if required or desired. Tobacco is to be delivered prior to a teaching whenever possible. This tradition is important and should be maintained when virtual teachings occur.
  • Confirm with the Elders/Knowledge Keepers how they would like to proceed with the presentation of tobacco. The presentation of gifts should occur after the teaching is complete.
  • Indigenous program leads are to connect directly with Elders and/or Knowledge Keepers to support online delivery and the sharing of Traditional Knowledge/Teachings. This includes tutorials and support for the use of technology across virtual platforms. Consider recording virtual meetings and teachings to support classroom learning.
  • Should Elders and/or Knowledge Keepers prefer to support learning in schools, reusable/disposable masks, will be available upon entry into the building if they do not have their own. If Elders are being invited to schools, schools should ensure a mask is available to the Elder/Knowledge Keeper.
  • A portable bottle of hand sanitizer and/or gloves should also be made available to the Elder and/or Knowledge Keeper. This accommodation is necessary in the case of allergies or skin sensitivities. A person should be tasked with cleaning workspaces at the end of each day.
  • Schedule larger meeting spaces or classes outside when it is comfortable and when weather permits. Minimize the gathering of large groups of students.

Field Trips

Field trips or outings are permitted as long as the activities follow the public health recommendations and orders in place at the time. However, the participation of children must be voluntary and accompanied by appropriate parental permission. Enhanced planning for field trips will be necessary to ensure the health guidelines are met. When planning outings or field trips, consider the following:

  • Outdoor settings are lower risk for transmission of COVID-19.
  • Avoid crowded venues.
  • Ensure there is access to handwashing and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizer during the outing. Handwashing will be required if the activity involves getting hands soiled.
  • For group transportation, physical distancing and/or cohorts need to be maintained. Please refer to the Student Transportation section below for guidance.

Food Handling

Only school staff will handle, prepare, and serve food.

Utensils should be used.

Remove shared food containers from eating areas. If using single service packets of condiments, provide them directly to students. Use prepackaged snacks and serve them directly to students.

Open kitchen and cafeteria areas to eat, but manage overcrowding.

Ensure proper hand hygiene practices.

The use of microwaves is acceptable provided proper hand hygiene is followed before and after use. Microwaves must be cleaned in accordance with regular scheduled cleaning for high-touch surfaces.

Food and nutrition courses involving food preparation with students may continue if supervised by qualified staff who follow industry standards.

International Students/Boarding/University/College Schools

Any international students coming to Canada to study at a Manitoba Kindergarten to Grade 12 school must follow the current public health and safety measures established by the Government of Canada. For current information, please see Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Designated learning institutions reopening to international students.

Please be advised that students should not make any travel plans until they have met all requirements and received all necessary authorizations.

Any school/school division intending to host international students with study permits in the 2021/22 school year must be prepared to have their readiness plan reviewed by Manitoba Education for compliance with public health requirements. These plans are to protect the health and safety of all students and the surrounding community, to describe how any public health measures will be met for arriving international students, and to provide information and support to international students.

For schools/school divisions with student residences, please see Guidelines for Boarding Schools (K to 12) and University/College Residences in Manitoba (pdf document 119 KB).

No Sharing Policies

It is important to reinforce in children the policies of no food sharing and no water-bottle sharing. Generally, these policies are intended to reduce potential exposures to allergens, but the practice of not sharing food or water bottles in schools also helps reduce all communicable disease transmission among staff and children. Students are encouraged to keep personal belongings with them.

Recess/Lunch Breaks

Public health officials advise that playgrounds and play structures are low risk for transmission. There are no specific requirements for cleaning play structures. Schools must also

  • schedule outdoor play to maintain cohorts of children and staff for Kindergarten to Grade 6.
  • practice good hand hygiene before and after use of shared equipment and before and after recess/lunch breaks.
  • mark zones, manage group sizes, and avoid contact among groups.

Students are encouraged to bring their own lunches, or provided lunches must be individually wrapped in disposable containers. If weather permits, lunch breaks may be held outside. Schools can continue to offer cafeteria services and breakfast, and lunch programs, provided they follow public health recommendations and orders in place at the time. Family-style, buffet, or potluck meals should be avoided. The use of microwaves is acceptable provided proper hand hygiene is followed before and after use. Microwaves must be cleaned in accordance with regular scheduled cleaning for high-touch surfaces.

Safety Drills

Fire Drills: Both the Manitoba Fire Code and the Safe Schools Regulation require schools hold at least 10 fire drills in a school year. Public health advice is to limit large groups of students gathering in and around schools. While fire drills are imperative to ensure the safety of students, they may cause crowding in some school spaces, such as hallways and at gathering spots.

The Office of the Fire Commissioner has advised that the required 10 fire drills must continue to take place. However, public health recommendations and orders may require schools and school divisions to use alternative ways of conducting fire drills in order to accommodate public health advice. This may include

    toolkit
  • the separate evacuation of one section of a school/a certain number of classrooms
  • the separate evacuation of one classroom at a given time
  • drills being held on different days

If any portion of the evacuation drill may not be conducted because public health guidance at the time does not allow for it, verbal instructions should be given. Students should also be reminded that in a real emergency situation, they should exit the school as quickly as possible.

Lockdown Drills: School divisions and schools will continue to hold one lockdown drill in each term or semester of the school year while ensuring public health guidance is followed. If any portion of the lockdown drill may not be conducted because public health guidance at the time does not allow for it, verbal instructions should be given. Students should be reminded that in a real emergency situation, it is not necessary to adhere to public health restrictions.

Bus Evacuation Drills: School divisions and schools will ensure that all students participate in emergency school bus evacuation drills, which will be conducted at least once during the fall term and at least once during the spring term. In Kindergarten to Grade 6, school bus evacuation drills should be conducted separately with groups of students already established as in-school cohorts and/or school bus cohorts. These drills may need to be adjusted to prevent overcrowding when exiting the bus and when gathering at the muster point. Portions of the evacuation drill may not be able to be conducted, such as evacuating a school bus from the rear exit door because it requires physical contact to assist students exiting the bus. In this case, verbal instructions should be given. Students should also be reminded that in a real emergency situation, they should exit the bus as quickly as possible. Hand hygiene must be performed before and after being on the bus.

Student Transportation

School transportation returns to pre-COVID-19 policies and practices, with buses running at full capacity with some additional cleaning requirements. Mask requirements would follow public health recommendations and orders at the time. When providing transportation, adhere to the following:

  • Students with symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend school or be passengers on buses. (Shared Health Manitoba - Screening Tool)
  • Drivers with symptoms of COVID-19 should not drive the school bus. (Shared Health Manitoba - Screening Tool)
  • Masks must be worn at all times while on the bus.
  • All passengers and drivers should perform hand hygiene before and after being on the bus.
  • When possible and as weather permits, open windows and/or roof vents to allow for increased ventilation.
  • Assign seats so the same students are seated in the same seats every day for regular bus routes.
  • Regardless of seating arrangement needs, ensure that up-to-date lists of bus riders and drivers are maintained to enable contact tracing if required.
  • Ensure there is enhanced cleaning of seats and other high-touch surfaces (e.g., windows, railings) before each new group of students attends the bus.
  • Hard-surface disinfectants or cleaning agents may be transported on a bus providing the product is secured and not accessible to students (maximum of 1 litre).
  • Subject to public health guidance and risk of COVID-19 transmission, additional measures for physical distancing may be required during the school year.

Active transportation, such as walking and biking, should also be encouraged. For transportation advice, please visit Province of Manitoba - Transportation Advice.

Travel and Self-isolation

Considering travelling during the winter break? If so, know the requirements for travellers upon return to Manitoba.

Not travelling? Be aware of the Holiday and Celebration Information and current gathering rules to enjoy seasonal activities.

Ventilation

This guidance is based on the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Reopening Guide for Schools. It is meant to provide practical direction to school divisions and schools to improve ventilation and HVAC operation and maintenance (O&M). Basic principles of physical distancing, surface cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE), screening, and other public health fundamentals should not be superseded by the guidance below, as this layered approach offers the best protection.

Guidance for Schools:

If the ventilation system has not been inspected, do the following as soon as reasonably practicable:

  • Have an HVAC professional inspect the system to ensure it is in proper working order, adjusted to maximize fresh air intake and has the highest level of air filtration allowable within the manufacturer’s operating parameters of the existing HVAC system.
  • Assess and identify rooms designated for occupancy that do not have operable windows and that do not have a fresh air supply. Repurpose the identified rooms if possible, or seek an engineered solution to introduce and maintain a clean air supply required for occupancy.
  • Maintain proper indoor air temperature and humidity to maintain human comfort, reduce potential for spread of airborne pathogens and limit potential for mould growth in building structure and finishes.
  • Verify filters are installed correctly and gaskets are intact. Maximize the filters' capability by sealing the filter cabinet and eliminating any air bypass.
  • Set up a program to monitor filters for replacement, check for particulate accumulation on filters, and replace as required. Wear appropriate PPE as recommended by public health officials and Workplace Safety and Health during the checks.
  • Replace filter media with the highest level of efficiency possible including MERV-13 filters, provided that it does not adversely impact system operation.
  • Disable Demand-Controlled Ventilation (DCV) systems using Carbon Dioxide (CO2) sensors where feasible by disabling control sequence, or adjusting set points to be at or near ambient outdoor CO2 levels (typically between 400 and 500 ppm).
  • Perform initial air flush of all spaces prior to occupants entering the building. It is recommended to operate in occupied mode for a minimum of one week prior to students returning while assuring that outside air dampers are open.
  • Daily air flush prior to occupancy: mechanical systems should be operated in occupied mode for a minimum of two hours prior to occupants re-entering the building. Systems should be operating in occupied mode a minimum of two hours after occupants have left the building. The intent is to maximize the fresh air to the space. The system should not operate below its minimum percentage of outdoor air.
  • Verify that P-traps on condensate drains are full.
  • Monitor control system and devices for evidence of improper operation.
  • Confirm that air handling units (AHU), roof-top units (RTU), and unit ventilators (UV) are bringing in outdoor air and that outdoor air dampers are open. Ensure fresh air intakes are located away from potential contaminants (e.g., parking lots, air exhausts).
  • Verify that exhaust fans and exhaust systems are operating correctly.
  • Ensure airflow patterns in classrooms are adjusted to minimize occupant exposure to particles (i.e., no strong fans or diffusers blowing directly at occupants).
  • Weather permitting, open windows in classrooms to increase air dilution in the space.
  • Implement and continue regular equipment maintenance. Refer to equipment and system-specific checks and verifications listed by ASHRAE (pages 10-16).

Visitor Access

Visitors and volunteers are permitted provided they adhere to self-screening requirements and to relevant public health recommendations and orders at the time.

Visitors with any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should not enter the school. Schools are required to retain a 21-day record of visitors to the school, including name, telephone number, and contacts while in the school, for the purposes of contact tracing.

Schools will ensure visitors are properly documented to support case and contact management.

In an effort to reduce exposures, schools may decide to continue monitoring the number of visitors in the school at any given time. Parents, caregivers, healthcare providers, volunteers, and other non-staff adults (e.g., visitors) entering the school should be prioritized to those supporting implementation of public health measures and activities that benefit student learning and well-being (e.g., teacher candidates, immunizers, meal program volunteers, etc.).

For direction regarding visitors accessing services related to technical-vocational education programs such as hairstyling, automotive, and esthetics, go to the Technology Education section of the Manitoba Education webpage.


Health concerns and how to address them

Health Concerns and COVID-19 Case Management

Toolkit for Notification of Cases in Schools

Case and contact management of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has been an important and effective public health strategy for reducing transmission.

Schools continue to take a layered approach to ensure the health and safety of all students and staff. We know that vaccines are effective at reducing disease transmission and reducing the chance that someone will require hospitalization or intensive care if they do get COVID-19. We also know that masks help reduce the risk of transmission. With evolving factors including having a vaccine approved and available for every Manitoban born in 2009 or earlier, public health officials are updating case and contact management processes. Cases in schools will follow these processes.

When a case is identified in a classroom, public health officials will take both non-medical mask use and vaccination status of the students and their teachers into account when risk is assessed. Use of masks in the classroom may prevent students and staff from being identified as close contacts and reduce the need for self-isolation. Fully vaccinated individuals may be exempt from self-isolation requirements if identified as a close contact.

Schools will continue to notify communities of positive COVID-19 cases associated with a school and cases for the 2021/22 school year will be published on the dashboard for COVID-19 cases in schools.

The Toolkit for Notification of Cases in Schools (pdf document 847 KB) was developed as a practical, step-by-step guide to provide school leaders with support to intervene as quickly as possible to keep schools safe and assist with collecting the information public health officials need as part of their investigation. It includes notification process steps, checklists, forms, and templates. The Toolkit has been reviewed and updated to reflect public health official’s updates to their case and contact management processes.

Manitoba Education has established a dedicated Notification Support Team to respond to official school inquiries, support the process and provide current documents and templates, upon request. The Notification Support Team is available to school officials seven days per week, excluding statutory holidays. Contact information for the Notification Support Team will be provided to superintendents and independent school principals.

COVID-19 Dashboard

dashboard imageCOVID-19 Dashboard: School-Aged Cases and School Staff Cases in Manitoba is an easy-to-understand tool that provides information about COVID-19 cases among students and staff. The dashboard will be updated twice weekly, every Tuesday and Thursday.

Underlying Health Conditions

Arrangements will be needed for students, teachers, administrators, and school staff who may be at higher risk of COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions or other risk factors.

Provincial-level remote learning will be in place for students who are medically advised not to return to in-class learning due to COVID-19-related risk 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 physicians on the need for an accommodation.

A medical note is not required to ascertain medical needs. The small number of children who are immunocompromised are likely already known to the school; however, school divisions and independent schools can request a medical note if needed. If a note is requested, school divisions should use a form letter, which the health care provider signs, that outlines the policy direction above to ensure that the health care provider can indicate that this situation applies to a particular student or immediate family member. Parental/caregiver contact information should be included on the form.

Schools or divisions must follow up by phone (or alternate method) with each family to discuss and ensure that parents/caregivers understand what is involved with learning at home and that this could be for the entire year until the spread of COVID-19 is broadly contained.

If a Child Exhibits Symptoms

If a child develops symptoms while at school, the child should be isolated in a separate room.

If a separate room is not immediately available, the child needs to be kept at least two metres or six feet away from other children and staff. A medical mask will be provided to be worn by the sick student (over two years of age only), unless there are safety issues that prevent the student from wearing a mask.

The parent should be notified to come and pick up the child immediately. Parents or caregivers must pick up their child as soon as possible if they are notified their child is ill.

Ask the parent or guardian to contact Health Links – Info Santé (204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257) or the child’s health care provider for direction, if required.

If the child is young and requires close contact and care while isolated, caregivers can continue to care for the child until the parent is able to pick up the child. Caregivers should be mindful of hand hygiene and avoid contact with the respiratory secretions of the child. A medical mask should be worn by the staff person caring for the child.

If a parent/caregiver is unreachable to pick up a sick child, school staff should keep the child isolated in a separate room until the parent or caregiver arrives. If the medical condition requires urgent assessment, or if the parent cannot be located, they should follow standard procedures. Anyone in close contact with the child while waiting should wear personal protective equipment, including a medical mask and eye protection. Once the student is picked up, the staff member should practise diligent hand hygiene.

Additional environmental cleaning will be required. Focus should be on high-touch areas and areas where the child spent time. All items (e.g., bedding and toys) used by the child while isolated should be cleaned and disinfected as soon as the child has been picked up.

A sick child can return to the school once it has been determined that it is safe to do so by their health care provider or a public health official. If that child has a positive test, further direction will be provided by public health officials. Public health officials typically follow up with contacts of cases within 24 to 48 hours of receipt of the laboratory report.

If a Staff Member Exhibits Symptoms

If a staff member or volunteer in a school becomes symptomatic, they should immediately isolate themselves from other staff and children, notify their supervisor, and go home to isolate. They should then contact Health Links – Info Santé (204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257) or their health care provider for direction. Additional environmental cleaning should occur. Focus should be on high-touch areas and areas where the staff or volunteer spent time.

Staff members who are away sick or who are self-isolating must follow the school’s human resources policy and collective agreement provisions. Medical notes are not required for staff who have COVID-19 or flu-related symptoms, or for those who are caring for individuals in this situation.

A sick staff member can return to work once it has been determined that it is safe to do so by their health care provider or a public health official. If that staff member has a positive test, further direction will be provided by a public health official.

Understanding Transmission

COVID-19 is most commonly spread from an infected person through respiratory droplets generated through coughing, sneezing, laughing, singing, and talking. It spreads more easily when contact is close (within six feet or two metres) and prolonged (more than 10 minutes). COVID-19 can also be spread by close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands, or touching something with the virus on it and then touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes before cleaning one’s hands. Some people who have few or no symptoms can spread COVID-19.

Although public health measures can significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 entering and being transmitted in child care and school settings, the risk is never zero. While it is expected that COVID-19 infections will continue to occur in the community as well as in schools, COVID-19 cases and severe illness have declined significantly due to most people 12 years and older being vaccinated for COVID-19. When most people 12 years and older are immunized, particularly parents and caregivers of school-aged children, exposures in schools are less likely to lead to further transmission. As a result, schools will be able to return to close to normal activities in September, with some health and safety measures still in place.

It is important to remember that children tend to have less severe illness from the disease, although this is not always the case. Severe disease requiring intensive care can occur in a very small minority of pediatric cases, particularly among those with certain underlying medical conditions. Multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is an uncommon but serious post-infectious condition, but it is responsive to treatment. While these risks are ongoing, we can adapt to living with COVID-19 as we do with other seasonal respiratory diseases such as influenza, which has similar risks of severe outcomes in children. Parents, guardians, and staff are encouraged to consult with their health care provider if they have concerns about their own health, their child’s health, or the health of other household contacts.

One of the most effective measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 includes separating people by maintaining physical distance and the use of physical barriers. However, these measures are not always practical in child care and school settings, and they affect the learning and social environment. Therefore, it is most effective to use a layered approach, including multiple measures, and to develop administrative measures that support individuals to consistently follow personal preventive practices (e.g., environmental cleaning and conducting frequent hand hygiene) that decrease the number of interactions while increasing the safety of interactions that occur. Adapted responses and recommendations may be required in situations where health, age, ability, status, or other socio-economic and demographic circumstances may limit the ability of some groups or individuals to follow the recommended measures.


Mental Health and Well-being

Mental Health and Well-Being

Manitoba Pandemic Support Guides

In partnership with the Manitoba School Boards Association, SAFE Work Manitoba, public health representatives, and other stakeholders, Manitoba Education has developed the Manitoba Pandemic Support Guides, a series of health and safety resources to support school staff. By working together to share and discuss this information, we can help schools continue to remain a safe place to work.

Well-Being and Mental Health Tips and Resources for Students, Families, Educators, and Others

Supporting the positive well-being and mental health of students, staff, and families is a key priority for Manitoba Education and for its many educational partners throughout the province. This support has been needed this past year more than ever, as we all deal with the many stresses and uncertainties that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

See below for links to four useful well-being and mental health tip sheets—one for students, one for parents and caregivers, one for teachers, and one for youth and adults—to help Manitobans as they navigate this difficult time.

Mental Health Strategy for the 2021/2022 School Year

As we proceed with our Restoring Safe Schools Plan for the 2021/22 school year, and return to full-time in-class learning, supporting the mental health and well-being of students, educators, and school staff, is an important priority and imperative as COVID-19 has affected the mental health and well-being of many Manitoba students, educators, and school staff.

To ensure proper services and supports are in place in local school divisions and school communities, the province announced $40 million in per pupil funding to school divisions and independent schools to help support a safe return to school, and promote mental health and well-being.

These initiatives, together with the locally developed school division initiatives form a mental health in schools strategy for 2021/22 and will be coordinated according to the 5Ts framework. The 5Ts are as follows:

  • Talking about mental health
  • Training for teachers
  • Incorporating mental health into Teaching
  • Providing appropriate Tools and supports for students
  • Taking care of teachers and school staff

Read more about the 5T’s framework.

In addition to the $40 million in per pupil dollars, funding is being provided for the following initiatives that will be starting in the fall. These are based on consultations with education stakeholders, feedback from educators on what supports were highly valued last year, and research:

  • An additional $380,000 to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to provide service navigation specialists to assist individuals in the education workforce with getting the specific mental health supports they need, developing French/English websites and social media targeting the education workforce, and establishing a stakeholder steering committee to oversee new mental health supports for the education workforce such as a Peer Wellness Coaching Team.
  • CMHA provides a wealth of educational resources, courses, and tools about mental health and mental illness, that include the following:
    • Suicide Prevention
    • Workplace Mental Health
    • Peer Support Canada
    • Resilient Minds
  • For more information visit either the national CHMA site or the local (Manitoba and Winnipeg) CMHA site.
  • An additional $100,000 for Sources of Strength, a preventative program which strengthens multiple sources of support around individuals from grades three through 12, so that when they face challenges, they have strengths to rely on. Funds will be used for additional French translation of materials, providing Sources elementary training for educators, as well as building capacity to support more middle and high schools offering the program.
  • Read more about Sources of Strength.
  • Sources of Strength online resources
  • $40,000 to provide SafeTalk training for 50 educators, who would then train students age 15 and over, teachers, and parents in suicide prevention and intervention. This funding would also provide for a centralized SafeTalk registry to allow for easy access and resource deployment.
  • Read more about SafeTalk.
  • $80,000 to provide further professional development for educators and leaders that is trauma-informed and culturally relevant, to address the effects of long-term trauma caused by the pandemic
  • $150,000 has been allocated for pilot projects to support and enhance well-being through the engagement of Elders and Knowledge-Keepers in schools. The Indigenous Inclusion Directorate will develop and implement The Elders and Knowledge Keepers in Schools Framework informed through Elder/Knowledge Keeper focus groups and community consultations. Check back for more information as this initiative progresses.

These initiatives build upon a number of existing initiatives from the 2020/21 school year that will also continue to support student mental health and well-being:

  • Project 11: A classroom and virtual program developed by the True North Youth Foundation was expanded to additional grades.
  • Provincial pilot of Enhanced School-Based Mental Health and Addictions Supports: This pilot integrates and enhances access to mental health and addiction supports for students in Grades 6 to 12.
  • Kids Help Phone: The province invested in virtual programming for Kids Help Phone.
  • The Remote Learning Support centre also offered services and supports to students and families through their team of service providers and their resources.
  • Investments were made in Families and Schools Together to build resilient families with young, school-aged children.
  • Investments were made in mental health supports for the Community Schools Program, which will be piloting a new Compassionate Schools Manitoba Initiative.
  • An expansion of Thrival Kits, developed by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth and the Canadian Mental Health Association.


Student Learning and Achievement

Student Learning and Achievement

Arts Education – Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts, and Dance

Arts education (dance, dramatic arts, music, and visual arts) is important in supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic growth. Arts programming can safely continue by being adapted to follow public health guidelines. This applies to both curricular and extracurricular activities.

Wind instruments and indoor singing are allowed, while ensuring adequate ventilation and striving for 2 metres of physical distancing or distancing to the greatest extent possible if there is insufficient room for 2 metres of distancing. Instruments should not be shared, except for equity of access purposes. If sharing, instruments and accessories will be cleaned and disinfected between users.

When individuals wash their hands before and after using the item, and the item is thoroughly cleaned after use, music accessories (e.g., drums sticks, mallets) may be shared.

Arts learning can be modified in a variety of ways if required in order to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Examples of modifications include teaching outdoors, having teachers travel from class to class, and using online learning.

Particular care must be taken when conducting musical activities involving singing and the playing of wind instruments indoors due to an elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission. There are specific requirements in order to conduct musical activities safely indoors. Please refer to COVID-19 – Guidelines for Vocalists and Instrumentalists. (pdf document 145 KB)

Assessment and Reporting

Student assessment and evaluation will proceed.

Report cards will be provided to all students, including in situations where remote learning is required.

Teachers will continue with ongoing local evaluation of curricular outcomes and assign grades as per provincial policy and school and school division direction.

There is a commitment to develop a new student assessment framework for Manitoba that includes strengthening formative assessments and creating new summative assessments in Early Years, Middle Years, and Grade 10.

In the 2021/22 school year, the Grade 3 Assessment in Reading, Lecture, and Numeracy, the Grade 4 Assessment in French Immersion Lecture, and the Middle Years Assessment of Key Competencies in Mathematics, Reading Comprehension, and Expository Writing will continue. A new Grade 10 assessment will be developed and the Grade 12 provincial exams will not proceed.

Information on Assessment and Evaluation.

Attendance

All students are expected to participate fully, even when remote learning is required. Students will be assessed on their work, reflective of their performance and learning. Schools are critical 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 measures.

Because students and staff must stay home when sick, schools and school divisions must plan for absenteeism. Classroom teachers will support the development and provision of at-home learning packages and/or provide remote learning for students who are isolating or quarantined.

Substitute teachers, clinicians, and other staff can work across multiple schools. Restrictions may be put in place if the risk level increases.

Strategies for the recruitment and retention of substitute teachers and other staff members may also be required.

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities, including sports, are permitted in accordance with public health recommendations and orders at the time.

Overnights are allowed for school functions, as are tournaments, while adhering to the orders under The Public Health Act. Public health guidance must be followed at all times and it is important to recognize that guidance may change during the year based on current orders at the time. Venues outside the school may require additional restrictions (e.g., proof of vaccination required for those 12 and older to eat in restaurants, etc.).

As of December 6, 2021, in order to participate in indoor, extracurricular recreational sport, students aged 12 to 17 years of age must either provide proof (acquired online at COVID-19 Online Result and Immunization) that they have received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 or proof of a negative rapid test result within the previous 72 hours. Schools follow the proof of vaccination guidelines. Those requiring rapid tests can contact their local pharmacy for more information. Provincial testing sites should only be accessed by symptomatic individuals, or those who are required to take a PCR test by public health officials.

A document (COVID-19: Public Health Orders for Indoor Youth Sports: Provincial Implementation Guidance) detailing the process for youth aged 12 to 17 years attending indoor sporting and recreational facilities is now available for use.

Kindergarten / Early Learning Programming

Encourage and focus on purposeful play.

Play is a powerful antidote to stress and can be very therapeutic for children who may have experienced trauma related to the impacts of COVID-19 on their family. Play promotes physical and mental health and development, and gives young learners an outlet for their energy, concerns, and emotions. Grade 1 students who did not attend in-person Kindergarten due to COVID-19 may also benefit from a more playful introduction to school.

Play centres: They are still recommended for Kindergarten and pre-school classrooms, provided children follow good hygiene practice before and after use. As classroom space allows, reduce the number of children at each play centre to minimize direct contact as much as possible. Allow children to make self-selected choices during this time. Environmental cues, such as two chairs at a centre, help children see how many friends can play there.

Morning and afternoon or alternate day Kindergarten classes will make up separate cohorts. Many materials and games can remain in use if children wash their hands before and after their use. Clean and disinfect the tables at least once per day. Manipulatives should be cleaned as per regular pre-COVID-19 procedures and practices.

Toys: As per standard procedures, it is recommended that schools have toys that are easily cleaned and disinfected. It may be prudent to increase the frequency of the cleaning schedule for these items, especially when illness is circulating in the setting or the local community, or if symptomatic staff and children have been touching the toys. Remove any toys without hard surfaces, as they cannot be easily cleaned.

Plush toys should be avoided. Children’s personal toys (i.e., for security or comfort) are not to be shared with other children and should be stored in a way that ensures this.

Children’s books: Encourage hand hygiene before and after children handle classroom books. Laminated paper-based products and hard cover books should be cleaned and disinfected daily if they are touched by multiple children before they are re-shelved. Soft-cover books may be restricted to a specific cohort group or quarantined for 72 hours before being rotated to another cohort.

Outdoors: Use the outdoors. As long as weather permits, plan to use outdoor learning environments as much as possible. Children may play on play structures or play equipment (e.g., tire swings, playhouses) as long as spacing can be maintained and they clean their hands before and after. Sharing toys in an outside setting (e.g., a sandbox) is permitted as long as effective hand hygiene can be ensured before and after play.

Special Considerations for Kindergarten

Encourage movement during free play. Build resilience by keeping children engaged, emphasizing the program structure and schedule and providing children with choices when possible. Free play is an important part of the daily schedule during Kindergarten, and Manitoba Education continues to promote at least 45 minutes to one hour of free play during the half-day Kindergarten program.

Learning Impacts

The impacts of COVID-19 on student learning will be felt into the 2021/2022 school year and beyond. These impacts have affected students and staff in different ways and a varied, strategic approach to address them is required. Funding is available to schools and school divisions to support priorities over the summer and into the next school year.

As the new school year begins, teachers and students will collaboratively assess strengths, identify challenges, and set new learning goals. The information gathered from these formative assessments can be used to plan rich learning experiences and targeted interventions. Student assessment and transition planning should emphasize and respond to learning needs identified in June 2021 report cards.

School divisions and schools will incorporate the following principles in their approach to addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on student learning:

  • addressing the mental well-being of students and staff upon resumption of in-class learning as a foundation for learning
  • using assessments to further understand the impacts of COVID-19 for learners, examining themes across classes and school communities, and using the results to inform planning
  • understanding individual students’ unique strengths and needs
  • building plans that acknowledge the diversity of student and educator experiences during the pandemic
  • collaborating with students, parents/caregivers, other classroom teachers, and student services personnel
  • meeting students where they are in their learning process as they transition from periods of remote learning back to in-class learning
  • developing plans to address the holistic needs of students, especially students identified as having been most at risk during the pandemic
  • providing access to rich learning experiences in all subject areas

Physical Education and Sports

Activities must follow public health recommendations and orders at the time. Choose outdoor settings as much as possible, as they are a lower risk for transmission of COVID-19. A person who is in an indoor public place does not need to wear a mask when engaged in athletic activity.

Additional information can be found at Sport Manitoba COVID-19 Update and also at the Manitoba High School Athletics Association in their 2021/22 Return to School Sport Plan.

Overnights are allowed for school functions, as are tournaments, while adhering to the orders under The Public Health Act. Public health guidance must be followed at all times and it is important to recognize that guidance may change during the year based on current orders at the time. Venues outside the school may require additional restrictions (e.g., proof of vaccination required for those 12 and older to eat in restaurants, etc.).

As of December 6, 2021, in order to participate in indoor, extracurricular recreational sport, students aged 12 to 17 years of age must either provide proof (acquired online at COVID-19 Online Result and Immunization) that they have received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 or proof of a negative rapid test result within the previous 72 hours. Schools follow the proof of vaccination guidelines. Those requiring rapid tests can contact their local pharmacy for more information. Provincial testing sites should only be accessed by symptomatic individuals, or those who are required to take a PCR test by public health officials.

A document (COVID-19: Public Health Orders for Indoor Youth Sports: Provincial Implementation Guidance) detailing the process for youth aged 12 to 17 years attending indoor sporting and recreational facilities is now available for use.

Remote Learning

Keeping schools open and safe for students, staff, and families is at the forefront of Manitoba Education’s COVID-19 planning. While Manitoba Education remains committed to students continuing to learn in classrooms face-to-face, the reality of the pandemic means that remote learning is also an essential component of delivering education to our students.

Blended Learning

Blended Learning is a combination of traditional face-to-face classroom learning and online/remote learning. There are many different models of blended learning, and the exact combination of traditional in-class and remote learning will look different for each teacher and for their students. Student self-regulation of learning is important in a blended learning (see Province of Manitoba - Blended Learning) environment, and students participate in determining how, when, and where they complete some of their learning. Blended learning can improve students’ independence and self-reliance. Nevertheless, a strong teacher presence is important to help guide learning and to support students in their growth as reflective, engaged, and active learners.

Remote Learning

Remote learning is the delivery of instruction outside the traditional classroom, supported through technology with a blend of synchronous (real time) and asynchronous (independent) coursework. It is not limited to a digital solution and refers to a variety of learning options, both online and offline. Successful remote learning requires the active participation and partnership of the student, parents/caregivers, and the teacher(s), who are key in creating a supportive learning environment under the guidance and leadership of a principal. The established Manitoba curriculum is the foundation of teaching and learning.

Blended in-class and remote learning plans may need to be implemented on short notice and may be in response to isolation due to illness from exposures. Mechanisms to maintain ongoing contact with students who are participating in remote learning are critical to keeping students engaged. School divisions and schools will ensure that all students who are participating in remote or blended learning have access to technology. Manitoba Education will continue to work with school divisions and stakeholders to ensure the availability of devices and to identify options for students and staff where Internet availability is limited.

Manitoba Remote Learning Framework

Manitoba Remote Learning Framework (pdf document 649 KB) outlines foundational beliefs and guiding practices to help build common understandings and support the implementation of evidence-based practices for online learning and teaching. The framework contains three guiding principles that support teachers and student families as they meet the diverse needs of all learners within our province. These guiding principles reflect a commitment to learners and highlight the importance of creating authentic, relevant, and inclusive learning experiences for students based on shared understanding about how they learn best. They also provide a framework to support system and school leaders and teachers with consistent implementation of evidence-based strategies in a way that will lead to better outcomes for all students.

Manitoba Education Standards for Remote Learning

Standards and expectations for remote learning have been developed to ensure consistent application across Manitoba schools. Manitoba minimum standards include both synchronous learning and independent work. The Manitoba Education Standards for Remote Learning document (pdf document 224 KB) provides minimum standards. School divisions and funded independent schools will ensure that the standards are in place for students and that they are communicated clearly to teachers, staff, parents, caregivers, and students.

Distance Learning Opportunities

The Manitoba Remote Learning Support Centre operates out of St James-Assiniboia School Division and will continue to provide remote learning for Kindergarten to Grade 8 students who are medically advised not to return to in-class learning due to COVID-19-related risk factors. Access to the Manitoba Remote Learning Support Centre is through local schools and school divisions. For more information, contact the principal of the MRLSC at principal@mbremotelearning.ca.

Remote learning options for students in Grades 9 to 12 include:

Departmental Resources

The following departmental resources have been developed specifically for parents to help support remote learning:

  • My Learning at Home is a website primarily targeted for parents who want to enhance learning at home and to support their child’s well-being and learning growth.
  • My Child in School informs parents of the usual grade-level curriculum content and the kinds of activities and learning experiences in which they may see their child engaging

During remote learning, schools and school divisions will have access to the following Manitoba Education COVID-19 resources for educators:

Students with Special Needs and Students at Risk

Considerations for Students with Special Learning Needs and Students at Risk

According to Appropriate Educational Programming in Manitoba: Standards for Student Services (2006), students with special learning needs are those who require specialized services or programming when deemed necessary by the in-school team because of exceptional learning, social/emotional, behavioural, sensory, physical, cognitive/intellectual, communication, academic, or health care needs that affect their ability to meet learning outcomes.

Students with special learning needs and students at risk may require additional supports, as well as consistent and more frequent collaboration and planning, strong communication, flexibility, and creativity within the student support team. Programming for students with special learning needs is a dynamic, interactive process that requires problem solving, teamwork, and trust among educators, students, and parents.

This includes the following:

  • Full-time in-class learning is prioritized for students with special learning needs whenever possible, as not all supports are transferrable to a remote online learning environment.
  • Students who are at risk of disengagement from school may require student-specific planning to develop and implement strategies to re-engage them; therefore, these students may be prioritized for in-class learning five days a week where possible.
  • It is important there be an established case manager to coordinate communication and planning within the student support team. Effective case management helps to ensure that instructional decisions are based on current student information and public health guidelines. It also helps to ensure that appropriate supports are provided in the context of in-class, blended, or remote learning.
  • Classroom teachers continue to fulfill various roles and responsibilities within the team planning process, such as implementing student-specific plans, assessing student outcomes, as well as acting as case manager for some students.
  • Assigning educational assistants to support the work of professional staff, such as teachers and clinicians, may be part of a student-specific plan. Their day-to-day activities are directed by the principal, teacher, or other professionals under whose supervision they work.
  • Students who live with complex medical needs and who have received medical advice not to attend school in person will continue to receive appropriate supports, as per the student-specific planning process and their individual health care plan.
  • School teams will continue to work in collaboration with families and related agencies/organizations that support children, youth, and their families. Planning takes into account particular timelines, responsibilities of each partner, and key practices across environments, to ensure appropriate educational programming is in place for in class and/or remote learning. In addition, child care needs may extend past the age of 12 and affect families in different ways.
  • Going back to school after a prolonged period at home may be more difficult for some students than others. It will be important to continue effective practices for transition planning, as outlined in the transition protocols on the Manitoba Education Student Services website:

Guidance on Supporting Students Who Require Interventions or Supports that Must Be Delivered in Close Proximity

When working with students who require interventions or supports within close proximity, additional considerations are beneficial to both students and staff members. For more information on working with students in close proximity, see Guidance on Supporting Students Who Require Interventions or Supports that Must Be Delivered in Close Physical Proximity. (pdf document 291 KB)

Supporting English Language Arts During the Pandemic: Meaningful Language and Literacy Practice

This English Language arts support document and resource for educators provides information to guide planning and instruction for in-class, blended and remote learning. It invites educators to consider how to engage their learning communities and design purposeful and meaningful experiences for students. It provides an overview and links to Manitoba English language arts and literacy supports.

For more information on supporting English language arts during the pandemic, see:

Supporting English Language Arts During the Pandemic: Meaningful Language and Literacy Practice (pdf document 254 KB)

Teaching and Timetabling

Schools are to maintain instruction of mandated curricula. Unilateral program cuts will not be supported, and school divisions must discuss these types of changes with Manitoba Education at educovid19@gov.mb.ca.

If adjustments are required, the focus for Grades 1 to 8 will be placed on four of the compulsory curricular areas of math, language arts (English, French Immersion, Français), social studies, and science. Physical Education/health Education and arts education (music, visual arts, dance and drama) will be integrated into these four key areas. For Grades 9 to 12, both compulsory and optional courses must be provided to ensure opportunities for student credit attainment for graduation.

For Grades 9 to 12, if a rotating schedule of in-person and remote learning is required to meet public health measures, a minimum of two in-person days out of a six-day cycle is required. Days of the cycle where students are learning from home may include independent learning experiences or the use of web cameras, with an appropriate privacy impact assessment, to allow students to participate with their class from home. For vocational programming see the Technology Education section of the Manitoba Education website.

As many outdoor activities as possible are encouraged.

School administrators will need to assess the impact and ensure any changes to school routines and assignments are communicated broadly.

If additional space is required to meet public health measures, creative uses of community spaces and timetabling is permitted, including reassigning staff and identifying alternate locations.

Technology Education

Technology education programming can continue, provided public health measures are followed. Culinary arts programs and the human ecology food and nutrition courses involving food preparation with students may continue when supervised by qualified staff that follow industry standards.

When planning for technical-vocational, industrial arts, human ecology, and applied commerce education programs, the Manitoba COVID-19 support document Workplace Guidance for Business Owners and Guidance for Industry Sectors (pdf document 221 KB) may provide useful sector-specific information.

GAP Training

Some students will require gap training to ensure they are not negatively affected by the loss of practical learning within their technical vocational education programs. Gap training will be required to meet certification for the trade programs, which align with post-secondary and private vocational institution programs. Gap training is necessary when students have been unable to complete the required work (theory or practical work), when students did not demonstrate the required level of understanding or performance of the outcomes of the course, or when students did not meet all the requirements for certification and/or industry standards (e.g., Apprenticeship Manitoba Level 1 Technical Training). The year-end report card will indicate “Gap Training Required”, and it should not include Apprenticeship AC numbers until gap training has been completed.

Province of Manitoba - Workplace Guidance for Business Owners

Province of Manitoba - Guidance for Industry Sectors

Career Development Work Placements and Experiential Learning Opportunities

Public health recommendations and orders set out specific and focused public health measures on a provincial, regional, community and business or sector basis that scales up or down, depending on the risk of the virus at that time.

This section refers to the following work experience programs:

  • High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP), Cooperative Vocational Education (CVE)
  • Credit for Employment (CFE), Career Development Internship (CDI)
  • Community Service Student-Initiated Project (CSSIP)
  • Other work placements and coursework practicums with on-the-job placements, paid employment, community service projects, or job shadowing may proceed provided that school divisions do so in alignment with public health guidelines and follow public health orders (e.g., wearing of masks, social distancing, applicable personal protective equipment (PPE) use, and hygiene-related recommendations).

When planning for work placement opportunities, school divisions should note the risk level and response and be guided by public health recommendations and orders, which will vary depending on region and industry-specific restrictions. For updated information for each region relative to the work placement being planned, see Province of Manitoba – Pandemic Response System.

School divisions should carefully consider decisions around students continuing to work for an employer as part of a Department of Education-approved course or program during the pandemic. Subject to the setting (industry-specific or region), schools offering work experience and career placements — both paid and unpaid—should conduct a risk assessment of the placement site. If restrictions are due to safety concerns or lack of available and appropriate placements, schools may explore alternatives in order to support students completing their program of study.

Public health recommendations for masks may be adjusted for these response levels and should be monitored. Specific guidelines on current mask use in workplaces can be found at Province of Manitoba – Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) and Non-Medical Masks page in the Medical Masks and Non-Medical Masks section.


Restoring Safe Schools

* Please note that the current website is updated regularly as changes occur in public health measures. The latest changes may not be reflected in the documents below.

An overview, along with the full plan can be found here: