WSD Safe Return to School Questions and AnswersSeptember 8, 2021 Announcement
WSD Safe Return to School Questions and Answers
(please return to this page for future additions to the q&a)
Q. What does “near normal return to school” mean?
A. All students will be returning to in school classes, with the exception of those students who have medical reasons to continue remote learning. For those students, high school virtual school will continue to be provided directly through WSD and Kindergarten to Grade 8 students will be provided a seat in the provincial virtual school. Near normal also means continuing to implement cohorts for Nursery to Grade 6, staggered entry and exits, lunches and recesses, attention to hand washing and other health safety initiatives outlined in the province’s Restoring Safe Schools plan. In addition, indoor mask wearing (preferably disposable medical masks) for all students, staff and visitors and immunization of all WSD staff and mature students.
Q. What is required for WSD staff immunization?
A. New public health orders announced August 24 will require all designated provincial public service workers, which includes educational workers including teachers, school and educational support staff, practicum students, bus drivers and custodial staff, to be fully immunized or submit to testing up to three times per week. Staff who have medical accommodations preventing immunization will also require testing up to three times a week.
In WSD, all staff and mature students will be required to be fully immunized and provide proof of vaccination, or undergo regular COVID-19 testing. Fully-immunized individuals are those who have received both doses (any combination) of an approved two-dose COVID-19 vaccine (AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna), or a single dose of an approved single-dose COVID-19 vaccine (Janssen/Johnson & Johnson) with more than 14 days having passed since the final vaccination was received.
Staff and mature students will be required to be fully immunized with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The first dose needs to be completed by Sept. 7, the first day of school, and the second dose completed by Oct. 17.
Q. What does it mean to have a mask mandate?
A. Public Health orders announced August 24 require that masks be worn in all public indoor areas. In WSD, the mask mandate requires that all students in Nursery to Grade 12 wear a cloth or, preferably, disposable medical grade mask whenever they are on school property or a school bus. Staff and visitors at all schools are required to wear a mask when they are on school property, including school busses. WSD has over 300,000 regular adult and pediatric medical masks ready to distribute and has access to order additional masks monthly from provincial supplies.
All mask exemptions require a medical physician's note to accompany the WSD Application for Mask Exemption for 2021-2022 school year. Exemption letters are available from the school.
Q. My child has a medical reason to continue remote learning in Kindergarten to Grade 8 – how do I register them for the provincial virtual school?
A. To access the remote learning program offered by the Manitoba Remote Learning Support Centre, students must be registered with a local school division or funded independent school. For further information, please contact your child’s home school, or the principal of the Manitoba Remote Learning Support Centre at email@example.com.
Q. What steps is WSD taking to improve ventilation in schools?
A. WSD is optimizing the existing ventilation systems to maximize outside air to provide proper indoor temperatures and air flow to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The division has implemented the following control measures as per the provincial August 2021 ventilation guidelines for schools:
- Direct Digital Control building automation system to control temperature/air flow and humidity to maintain comfort levels and adjust settings as needed.
- HVAC system programmed as follows:
- Systems will run continuously from 4 a.m. to midnight with outside air intake dampers fully open, weather permitting
- An initial air flush completed prior to staff and students returning to schools
- Maximum fresh air and air exchanges within the spaces
- CO2 set points at 450 ppm to limit CO2 concentrations to be near ambient levels
- WSD has a preventative maintenance program in place for staff to check daily on the operation for the HVAC systems to ensure they are properly operating, in addition to regular inspection and maintenance (inspecting belts, lubricating equipment, inspect and replace filters more frequently as required)
- Opening windows to increase air dilution, weather permitting
Q. Is there a list of ventilation systems for each school? For instance, what kind of ventilation is provided in schools with radiator heating?
A. WSD Buildings Department maintains a list of HVAC equipment for all of its 86 schools and buildings. There are a number of different ventilation systems throughout the division, and there are often multiple types of systems and equipment within in one facility, depending on the number of additions over the history of the facility.
Ventilation systems can be Air Handling Units, Roof Top Units, Heat Recovery, Unit Ventilators among others. The majority of WSD schools have perimeter radiation for heating within the classrooms, either water or steam heating, and these are independent of the ventilation system.
Q. Is there any information related to what “utilizing the outdoor learnings environments wherever possible” means?
A. When weather allows for it, many teachers take their classroom outdoors for learning. A lot of subject curriculum can also be taught using outdoor elements such as measurements and fractions in Mathematics, nouns and adjectives for nature in English Language Arts etc.
Q. The province is allowing for up to 75 people in a cohort – what is the maximum WSD will allow?
A. While the province has allowed for up to 75 people in a cohort, schools are encouraged to keep Nursery to Grade 6 cohort sizes as small as feasible to avoid large group disruptions to in-person learning. Generally, cohorts in WSD are made up of 25 students or less in elementary grades.
Q. Will WSD continue to implement physical space indoors and encouraging learning, lunch, snacks, etc. outdoors when possible.
A. Yes, WSD schools have plans in place to maintain distance requirements, achieving at minimum one (1) metre to the greatest extent possible distance between students. In addition, staggered entry and exit, lunch and recess will continue to be implemented. Outdoor activities will be weather dependent as we move into the Autumn and Winter months.
Q. Will WSD allow extra-curricular activities to resume?
A. WSD is following the Manitoba Public Health measures for schools which includes proceeding with extra-curricular activities, sports and field trips in accordance with public health guidance and orders. At this time, music and band programs are able to proceed in fully ventilated areas and with student/staff distancing.
For more information from MB Education on Restoring Safe Schools please visit https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/covid/index.html