The exchange was promoted on WSD social media channels, as well as through a letter sent home to parents through WSD schools. It was open and promoted for a period of five days.
There were a total of 2987 participants who shared 3103 thoughts. On average, 35 thoughts were rated per participant, indicating a high level of engagement with, and consideration of, thoughts provided by others.
We heard your concerns about safety protocols in schools/classrooms and student learning. There was also a clear desire for timely and clear communication between all parties to ensure that expectations and progress are consistently understood.
There were also concerns related to mental health and well-being, and children not being able to interact with their friends as they have in the past.
Key Considerations in Planning
Cohorts: In classes, on buses and during activities when physical distancing may not be possible, emphasis is put on limiting interaction between groups and other public health measures. It is important to limit potential exposure by keeping cohorts (classes or groups of students) together and avoiding interactions with other cohorts. In the event that there is a positive case in a school, this practice can reduce the risk of exposure to students and staff, and will assist greatly in Public Health investigation.
Cohort/Class Sizes: We will work to ensure that we don’t have overly large class sizes to minimize risk. Once we receive information from the pre-registration survey to families, we will have a better idea as to what class sizes will be (some students will opt for homeschooling). In the event that class sizes need to be adjusted, staff will explore strategies such as reorganizing classes or adding additional resources to the extent that the budget will allow.
Masks: WSD is following Manitoba Public Health’s recommendation on masks, and wearing a mask will be encouraged throughout schools when physical distancing is not possible. Students and staff should provide their own non-medical masks, however, they will be available at the school or on the bus if needed:
- Students (Grade 5 and up), teachers, staff, visitors, and volunteers are strongly recommended to wear non-medical masks in common areas and where physical distancing of two metres is not possible. Students under Grade 5 are also encouraged to use non-medical masks.
- There may be times throughout the day that students will have sufficient space to be physically distanced so that masks can be removed, such as during lunch breaks or mask-free play outdoors at recess.
- Masks will be provided at the school if needed. Non-medical masks will be added on the school supply list as well.
- Students in Grade 5 and up are required to wear medical masks before they are allowed on school busses and while they are on it.
- A mask will be provided for them if they do not have one.
- Students in Grade 4 and lower will not be required to wear a mask, but they are encouraged to wear a non-medical mask if they choose.
Student Attendance: Where remote learning is included as part of the learning plan for students at the high school level, students are expected to participate. Students who are unable to return to school due to personal or family health risks factors related to COVID-19 are required to provide their school administrator medical direction from their family physician. The school will consult with the family on an accommodation to support their remote learning.
Homeschooling: Where a parent/guardian opts to have their child learn from home, where there is no personal or family health risk factor related to COVID-19, the child must be registered in Manitoba Homeschooling.
Homeschooling is when parents choose to be responsible for their child’s education and not have their child attend a public or independent school. When parents choose to homeschool their child, they are responsible for obtaining resources and materials for the program of study. Provincial funding is not available to families who homeschool.
As we prepare for students’ return in September, we know that school will look different as a result of continued efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. We have been planning for our return and considering all possibilities to ensure that student and staff well-being and safety is the priority.
With confirmation from Manitoba Education and Manitoba Public Health that we will have in-person instruction five days per week for elementary students and at the minimum, two days per week for high school students, we are undertaking pre-registration of elementary, secondary and adult students asking for families to indicate their intentions regarding attending in-person or homeschooling in order to assist in our planning for September.
The process includes an online survey for parents and adult students (Google translation is available for this survey). A link to the survey will be sent to you tomorrow through this email service. The survey is also available to access via the Winnipeg School Division website winnipegsd.ca. The survey will be open from Wednesday August 19, 2020 and close on Friday, August 28, 2020.
The survey intention is to determine an estimate of the number of students who will be attending in person or who have opted for homeschooling.
Critical role of families
We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for students and staff to stay at home if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
Families can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by screening children daily for these symptoms and keeping them home from school if they are sick or have had close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The online COVID-19 Screening Tool
should be completed daily, prior to sending children to school. Students showing any symptoms of COVID-19, including coughing or running nose, will be isolated at the school and the parent/guardian will be called to pick them up.
Parents/guardians are also asked to encourage their child to follow the health and safety measures put in place that their school. These include physical distancing, practicing good hygiene habits, including hand washing, and wearing a mask as appropriate. Each school will have protocols for pick up and drop off – please be aware of these and follow them accordingly.
Entering, moving through and exiting school
Before coming to school, all staff and students are expected to conduct a self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms using the screening tool linked above. Once they arrive at school, a second screening will be conducted to ensure no one exhibiting any symptoms comes into the school. This is our most important defence against transmission of COVID-19.
Students and staff will practice physical distancing and remain two metres apart to the extent possible and one metre apart at a minimum. Classrooms will be organized to encourage the maximum space between students. Floors will be marked with stickers to designate a one-way traffic flow and identifying two metre distances. Signage will be placed throughout the building to reinforce safety protocols. Where physical distancing is not possible in school offices and public reception areas, alternative methods of separation such as plexiglass barriers may be used.
Our goal is to maintain physical distancing whenever possible. In order to reduce the potential for larger gatherings of students, we will be limiting occupancy levels in common areas such as hallways, stairwells and libraries. Lockers will not be used by students at this time. Recess times will be staggered. Students who remain at school during the lunch period will eat their lunch at their desk.
Schools will determine local protocols including identifying entry/exit doors and parent pick up/drop off protocols.