Members’ Questions Answered

The response to COVID-19, like the pandemic itself, continues to evolve. Here you’ll find responses to the latest issues impacting teachers in Manitoba.


Expectations for Teachers
(Learning and Assessment for Students)

Manitoba Education has provided the following details on the expectations for teachers while working from home, as well as the learning and assessment requirements for K-12 students.

Please note, this is a general guide and your school division will provide more specific details tailored to the needs of its student population.

Educators must follow the direction of their individual school division. Questions about specific requirements must be directed to your school division, as they are your employer.

Expectations for all teachers

While working from home, teachers are expected to:

  • Plan, prepare and communicate learning experiences that support grade-level curriculum outcomes and can feasibly occur within the home setting.
  • Continued daily support for student learning, including support for families to manage learning at home.
  • Monitor and assess student learning and assignments.
  • Assign a final grade, as well as identify future recovery learning needs.

K- Grade 8 learning and assessment

  • Teacher-directed learning will be implemented to provide education for students through other online tools (i.e. See-Saw, Edsby) and print-based learning.
  • The focus will be on literacy and numeracy with opportunities for science and social studies outcomes. Learning will also incorporate physical activity and artistic expression.
  • Teachers will maintain relationships with students and families via phone calls, emails, and other technical support.
  • Teachers will set goals for students and assess progress.
  • Learning recovery needs will be identified in June 2020 for the following school year.
  • Teachers will plan a minimum average of five hours per week of curriculum-based learning for students in K–Grade 4, and 10 hours per week for students in Grades 5–8.

Grades 9- 12 learning and assessment

Three streams of teacher-directed learning are available:

  • Existing strategies, including print-based, online, or a blend of the two.
  • Use of InformNet and other Department of Education web-based courses within teachers’ online classrooms.
  • Print-based credit recovery modules from the Distance Learning Unit, which allow teachers to support and assess students without access to technology.
  • Grades 9–12 teachers should plan for a minimum of three hours of curriculum-based learning per course per week for semestered courses.
  • Technical-vocational teachers will continue to focus learning on theory outcomes. When regular classes resume, special efforts will be made to allow students to complete the practical outcomes and expectations to ensure they meet certification and Apprenticeship Manitoba requirements.

InformNet to expand

InformNet, a complete online high school operated by Pembina Trails and St. James Assiniboia School Division, offers full online courses for division students within school year.

InformNet will be expanded across the province, with an initial focus on Grade 11 and 12 courses.

InformNet summer school will be offered as usual. Online summer school runs from July 3-29 and is open to all high school students in Manitoba.

Student grades

Student marks will be maintained at the most recent assessment (baseline), but students will be expected to continue learning and complete assignments. Teachers will teach remotely, assess progress, and assign a final grade.

In addition to baseline, Grades 9-11 students will be given a ‘designation’ by teachers – “No Recovery Work Required” or “Recovery Work Required”.

Grades 9-11 students who do not engage in remote learning will be allowed to progress, but schools will implement recovery learning in the 2020-2021 school year.

Special efforts will be made for Grade 11 and 12 students and resources will be reassigned to support these students to ensure they have knowledge needed to graduate.

2019-2020 Grade 12 provincial assessment will be cancelled, but options for teacher assessment will be implemented.


Applying for CERB

The application form for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit will be available online as of April 6, 2020.

To avoid overloading the system, the government has prepared a schedule, inviting workers to apply on a specific day, according to their birth date. Please see below.

Read FAQs about CERB here

CERB expands eligibility

The federal government is expanding the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to better support those in need who did not qualify under the current rules.

To help more Canadians benefit from the CERB, the government will be changing the eligibility rules to:

  • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
  • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.

These changes will be retroactive to March 15, 2020. More details will be posted on the portal shortly.


Important info for Substitute Teachers
Canada introduces Emergency Response Benefit

Substitute teachers can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), a taxable benefit that will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, are able to receive the CERB.

CERB payments will begin within 10 days of application and will be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

If you have already applied for EI and your application has not been processed, you do not need to reapply.

The portal for accessing the CERB will be available in early April.

Read the full release here


MTS is closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation. This information is intended to address frequently asked questions for our membership. We will update this list as necessary.

1. Do I need to cancel my spring break plans?

The Government of Canada has strict international travel advisories in effect. Click here to find out more. If you do not follow these advisories, your will risk your eligibility for benefits and pay. Avoid non-essential travel.

2. What about domestic travel?

All non-essential travel should be postponed.

3. I just returned from vacation, should I stay home?

According to the Government of Canada and the Government of Manitoba, all travellers returning from outside Canada should self-isolate for 14 days.

4. Does it matter where I travelled or plan to travel?

Yes. All travel advisories should be heeded.

5. My employer has asked me to tell them if I am travelling out of province for personal reasons. Do I need to tell them?

While the employer may request you advise them of your travel plans, you are under no obligation to do so. However, there is very strong guidance and advice from the Canadian Public Health Agency that states: Avoid non-essential travel.

Your personal time is yours however please consider public health safety and personal safety issues in all of your decision-making.


Self-Isolating

6. If I am in self-isolating, will I be paid?

In certain circumstances, Manitoba Health is directing Manitobans to self-isolate, which is a precautionary measure and does not mean that the individual is infected with COVID-19. This is a medical reason not to be at school and therefore we would expect the absence to be paid. The suspension of classes and schools remaining open will require members who are not on sick leave or who have been directed to work from home to report to/for work as may be required by your school.

7. A member of my household has been directed to self-isolate. Do I need to stay home from work?

A discussion with your employer and a medical opinion on your health status will inform this decision.

8. I am worried about catching COVID-19 and transmitting it to my family. Can I take a leave?

Teachers in this situation may apply for and may access leave but should expect that it will be unpaid.

9. Can my school division deny me sick leave (pay) if I am directed to self-isolate?

If you are denied sick leave and/or pay due to an absence directed by a doctor or public health professional, please contact an MTS staff officer to discuss your specific circumstances.

10. What happens if I do not follow Health Canada’s travel advisories and contract COVID-19?

If you do not follow Government mandated travel advisories and contract COVID-19, you will risk your eligibility for benefits and pay. Avoid non-essential travel. Refer to Blue Cross for additional information.


MTS Response on Meetings and Member Gatherings

Effective immediately, MTS is suspending all meetings, seminars, workshops and conferences organized and/or hosted at McMaster House (or at remote locations) through to the end of spring break (April 6th, 2020). At that time, we will reassess these measures.

We are guided by Manitoba Health in our decision-making in the implementation of ‘social distancing’ practices to avoid virus transmission in the community. We advise that Locals follow suit.

We will update the MTS website regularly as developments occur.


What about substitutes?

Substitute teachers scheduled to work over the period of the school closures (March 23- 27 and April 6-10) should check with the appropriate school division to determine whether they will be paid for their cancelled shifts.

Please note payment for cancelled shifts is at the discretion of the division and will vary. The division is not mandated to pay a substitute for a cancelled shift.

Substitutes should apply for Employment Insurance to ensure they can continue to meet their financial obligations.

The federal aid package includes benefits for those who do not qualify for EI. Information on accessing this benefit will be available in April through the CRA website.