COVID-19 School Guidance

This page provides general guidance on public health measures in place for schools. As restrictions and guidance are eased in Manitoba, the health, safety, and well-being of students and staff remain a top priority. The success of the vaccination program, the lower number of hospitalizations, the availability of treatment for those at higher risk of severe disease, and the higher population immunity allow us to cautiously resume activities and standard practices.

While the province is now able to remove public health orders, it is important to remember that the province remains in a time of transition. Public health updates can be found at COVID-19 Information for Manitobans. Schools are asked to review existing contingency plans and be ready to implement changing measures as well as follow preventive measures as much as possible:

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Be sure to stay home when sick.
  • Wash hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze.
  • Assess your risk and know if you are eligible for treatment.
  • Make decisions about additional measures based on personal risk and preference.

Long-term COVID-19 School PlanningImage with clock shaped like a virus and a calendar and planner behind it

Effective March 15, 2022, all schools in Manitoba are under the Limited Risk Level (Green) on the Pandemic Response System (PRS). As public health officials continue to monitor the situation, schools should ensure contingency plans are ready and communicate with families.

Pandemic Response System - Green Limited Risk
  • The spread of COVID-19 is broadly contained in Manitoba.
  • Transmission of the virus is at very low to undetectable levels.
  • A vaccine and effective treatment are available.
  • There may be single or isolated small cluster outbreaks which are quickly contained.
  • Community transmission is low to undetectable.
  • There is sufficient health system capacity.

Pandemic Response System and Contingency Planning

Public health officials use the Pandemic Response System (PRS) to rapidly communicate up-to-date public health advice to Manitobans and set PRS levels. As the level of risk changes, public health officials may identify regions or schools of concern. When schools move to the Limited Risk (Green), Caution (Yellow), Restricted (Orange) or Critical (Red) level of the PRS, they must implement level-specific public health measures. If and when public health officials direct schools to move to any of these levels, the links below provide an overview of applicable public health measures to reflect the changing public health situation and ensure appropriate contingency plans are in place.

Measures for Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools at the Limited Risk level (Green) (pdf document 87 KB)

Measures for Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools at the Caution level (Yellow) (pdf document 89 KB)

Measures for Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools at the Restricted and Critical level (Orange and Red) (pdf document 143 KB)

As with any other communicable disease, public health officials will continue to work with schools or child care facilities as needed to manage COVID-19 activity in schools. Public health officials may recommend further preventive measures.

Remote learning is not anticipated to be recommended for ongoing COVID-19 management, unless exceptional circumstances arise. Shifts to remote learning require a public health risk assessment and approval from Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning. 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 that progress is reported to families. The guidelines can be found at Manitoba Education Standards for Remote Learning (pdf document 224 KB).

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

Immunization

The campaign to vaccinate Manitobans continues to see an increasing number of Manitobans vaccinated through pop-up clinics; pharmacies; and medical, community, and school clinics.

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

For information on vaccines in Manitoba, please visit:

Province of Manitoba – COVID-19 Vaccine page

Province of Manitoba- News release on vaccination of 5 to 11 year olds

Raise Your Hand - #ProtectMB - A recording of a Grade 7 to 12 student-led virtual town hall about vaccinations

Toolkit and Guidance for COVID-19 in Schools

Toolkit and Guidance for COVID-19 in Schools (pdf document 550 KB) is a practical guide to provide school leaders with support. The toolkit will continue to be updated to reflect new guidance to help K to 12 school officials manage COVID-19 in schools until it transitions fully to standard processes.

Arrangements for 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.

Students with Special Needs and Students at Risk

Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning is committed to fostering inclusion for all people. Collaboration among home, school and community is imperative. Given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and transmission within communities, guidance may change based on emerging circumstances and information from public health officials.

For more information, read:

Attendance

Because students and staff must stay home when sick, schools and school divisions must plan for absenteeism. Parents/caregivers and staff are encouraged to report cases to the school. The school will monitor student and staff absenteeism and COVID-19 cases to look for unusually high absenteeism or concerning patterns or trends in a classroom and throughout the school.

Schools can continue to inform school communities if there is higher than expected absenteeism within their schools due to COVID-19 activity. School officials should continue to emphasize the need for individuals to screen for COVID-19 symptoms and stay home when sick.

Classroom teachers will support the development and provision of at-home learning packages and/or provide remote learning for students who are isolating. All students are expected to participate fully, even in the rare situations when remote learning is required.

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.

Communication

The success of the school year and student progress and achievement depends in part on schools, parents, caregivers, and students being informed of changes to activities and practices in schools.

Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning has taken steps to have parents, caregivers and staff kept up-to-date with the latest information by providing:

  • Opportunities to provide feedback and queries to the COVID-19 response team at EDUCOVID19@gov.mb.ca.
  • Regular updates to schools and school divisions.
  • Updates and new information, as it becomes available, on the COVID-19 Guidance and Planning for K to 12 Education website.

Schools and school divisions are available to families should they have questions or concerns regarding daily activities for their children.

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Public Health Measures and School Operations Image of gears, one gear has a school inside of it

Public health measures in schools and child care facilities will continue to mirror public health measures in communities. This means that, as public health officials remove restrictions and move to recommendations, the changes will also apply to schools. Schools should continue to provide options (e.g., in-person and virtual parent teacher conferences, smaller group options) to allow for broad participation, which take into consideration the range of individual risks and preferences.

Daily Screening

Students and staff are expected to monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 every day. If a student or member of the staff develops symptoms, they are advised to isolate (stay home) and not attend school, child care, or work. Schools will communicate with parents and caregivers about the need to monitor their child daily before sending them to school. The online screening tool provides instructions on what to do.

Isolation

If a student or staff has COVID-19 symptoms, they should Isolate (stay home) and notify the school. Schools can require students and staff who are showing symptoms to stay home and advise them to follow public health guidance on isolation and testing. Please see:

If a student is symptomatic while at school:

  • The child should isolate in a separate room. If a room is not available, the child will distance from other children and staff.
  • A medical mask will be provided for the child, unless there are safety issues that prevent mask-wearing. If a staff member needs to stay with the student, they should wear a medical-grade mask and eye protection.
  • A parent or caregiver should be notified to come and pick up the child immediately. Parents and caregivers must pick up their child as soon as possible if they are notified that their child is ill.
  • If parents or caregivers have questions or need advice, schools can refer them to:

If a staff is symptomatic while at school, they should immediately isolate themselves from other staff and children, notify their supervisor, and go home to isolate. Staff members who are away sick or who are 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.

Rapid Antigen Testing

Rapid antigen tests are more widely available in the community. The province is distributing over four million rapid tests to retail partners across Manitoba. Tests are currently available at eight retail chains across the province and libraries in Winnipeg.

As of March 1, 2022, public health officials no longer require designated provincial public service employees who have ongoing or prolonged contact with vulnerable populations, including children, to undergo frequent COVID-19 testing.

  • Schools can provide their current supply of rapid antigen tests to K to 12 students and staff for use when symptoms develop. Testing is voluntary and should follow the guidance provided by public health officials.
  • Rapid antigen tests will only be distributed to children following parental approval.
  • Students and staff who have contracted COVID-19 within the last six months can still test if they develop symptoms although they are at lower risk of re-infection in the short term.
  • Instruction inserts in some of the boxes indicate “to be administered by a medical practitioner only.” Cadham Provincial Laboratory has evaluated these kits and has recommended them as acceptable for self-use or home use.
  • Test kits of 25 should be distributed to large families with multiple students in a household. These kits can also be provided to school staff to be kept on hand, for use over the long term.
  • Proper monitoring and rotation of stock will ensure that kits with the shortest shelf life are distributed and used first. The manufacturer has indicated that the tests remain accurate four months beyond the stated expiry date. The stickers indicate the prolonged expiry date.
  • Additional tests can be ordered directly from Materials Distribution Agency (MDA), contingent on approval of the testing task force.

See the below testing websites for information on rapid antigen tests.

If eligible for PCR testing, you can register to view your laboratory-based test results online: Shared Health - COVID-19 Online Result and Immunization Display.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

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

Province of Manitoba – Guidance on Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquettes

Government of Canada- Health-related Video Gallery

Assemblies, Gatherings, Visitors, and Physical Distancing

  • Visitor and community use of schools can return to normal practice provided individuals self-screen and follow the relevant public health recommendations at the time. For more information about screening, visit Shared Health Manitoba or call 1-877-308-9038.
  • In-person assemblies, staff meetings, and gatherings are permitted. School assembly and gathering decisions for in-person or virtual delivery can be made at the school or divisional level.
  • Physical distancing and cohorts are no longer required. Schools can begin to remove these measures as operationally feasible.

Masks

Schools and child care facilities should follow public health guidance and align with the general public health guidance for Manitobans. The department will continue to work with school divisions and child care facilities as they work to implement public health direction and guidance.

  • After March 15, 2022, schools and school divisions should provide mask recommendations for students and staff that align with public health recommendations, and remain a place that respects individual choice regarding masks based on the individual’s risk assessment. This means that individuals may choose to continue to wear masks, based on their individual risk or personal preference.
  • Public health continues to recommend masks:
    • For those who are at higher risk of severe disease.
    • For individuals at higher risk of severe illness attending a crowded indoor setting, or if in a setting where many people are at higher risk for severe disease. For example, healthcare facilities and personal care homes continue to require mask use.
    • For individuals who are sick, or have tested positive for COVID-19. They should wear a mask for 10 days after symptoms develop when they leave isolation and have contact with others.
    • For individuals caring for someone who is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • A student who becomes ill at school will be isolated and provided with a medical mask to wear until such time as they are picked up from school by a parent/caregiver. If a staff member needs to stay with the student, they should wear a medical-grade mask and eye protection.
  • Further information on masks is available at:

School Transportation

  • School transportation returns to regular policies and practices.
  • Full capacity is allowed on buses.
  • Assigned seating is recommended.

Sports, Music and Extracurricular Activities

  • Field trips and extracurricular activities may continue.
  • Overnight trips are allowed.
  • Tournaments are allowed.
  • Spectators should follow the visitor guidelines.
  • Music and band programs may resume as per pre-COVID measures.
  • Instruments should be cleaned on a regular basis.

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

Ventilation

Manitoba’s guidelines require schools to inspect their systems and seek solutions from qualified heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) experts as needed to take actions as required.

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.

Schools are expected to maintain proper ventilation in schools. Protecting Manitobans - Ventilation (pdf document 224 KB) provides practical direction to school divisions and schools to improve ventilation and HVAC operation and maintenance (O&M) based on the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Reopening Guide for Schools.

Travel and Self-isolation

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

There are no longer travel restrictions on those entering Manitoba. For information visit Manitoba Pandemic Response System for current public health orders.

If your travel is outside of Canada then the Government of Canada guidance applies. International travelers MUST follow federal self-isolation (quarantine) requirements.

Any questions can be directed to the Public Health Agency COVID-19 information line at 1- 833-784-4397.

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Mental Health and Well-being Image of a person with a heart in one hand and a health cross in the other

Supporting the positive well-being and mental health of students, staff, and families is a key priority for Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning and for its many educational partners throughout the province.

Mental Health Strategy for 2021/2022

As the Restoring Safe Schools Plan for the 2021/22 school year proceeds, provincial and locally developed initiatives for a mental health in schools strategy for 2021/22 will be coordinated according to the 5Ts framework.

The 5Ts are as follows:

  • Talk about mental health
  • Training for teachers
  • Incorporating mental health into Teaching
  • Providing appropriate Tools and Supports for students
  • Taking Care of teachers and schools

For more information, visit:

Well-being and Mental Health Guides and Resources

The Manitoba Pandemic Support Guides, a series of health and safety resources to support school staff, have been developed by Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning in partnership with the Manitoba School Boards Association, SAFE Work Manitoba, public health representatives, and other stakeholders. By working together to share and discuss this information, schools can continue to remain a safe place to work.

See below for links to four well-being and mental health tip sheets to help Manitobans as they navigate this difficult time.

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Student Learning, Progress and AchievementImage of a plant with a glowing lightbulb at the top. Inside the light bulb is a graduation cap and pencil

Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning continues to work with stakeholders to ensure learning continues, schools and child cares remain safe, and students receive equitable access to education.

Early Learning

Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning 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.

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 2021/2022 school year must be prepared to have their readiness plan reviewed by Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning 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.

Remote Learning and Distance Learning

Keeping schools open and safe for students, staff, and families is at the forefront of Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning’s COVID-19 response planning. Remote learning is a measure of last resort, and it is not anticipated to be recommended for ongoing COVID-19 management, unless exceptional circumstances arise.

The Manitoba Education Standards for Remote Learning document (pdf document 224 KB) ensures consistent remote learning practices across Manitoba schools. 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.

Remote learning options for students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 include:

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

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

Assessment and Reporting

Student assessment and evaluation will proceed. Students will be assessed on their work, reflective of their performance and learning.

  • 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 2021/2022 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.

For more Information, visit, Assessment and Evaluation.

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COVID-19 School Library Image of a laptop with a book on the screen, a glowing lightbulb is emerging from the book.

The COVID-19 School Library has been created to help schools and school divisions access guidance and support documents quickly and easily identify documents that may no longer be relevant given the changing COVID-19 situation. Archived documents, may, however, be required in instances where public health officials move a school to a different level of the pandemic response system because of high rates of absenteeism or self-reported cases.

Current Documents

Archived Documents

2021/2022 school year

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Information

Latest COVID-19 Information

Shared Health Manitoba or call 1-877-308-9038

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