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.

Report cards, internet and more

There are many unanswered questions about the expectations for teachers and students following the government’s announcement that classes will be suspended indefinitely.

We are in constant communication with Manitoba Education and the minister’s office and will relay information as soon as it is available.

Below, you will find responses provided by the minister’s office for some of the most commonly asked questions we have received from members.

Please note, these are guidelines provided by Manitoba Education to all school divisions. The final decision on the application of these guidelines rests with individual school divisions. Educators must follow the direction of their individual school division.

1. Is the use of InformNet mandatory for high school teachers?

InformNet is not mandatory for high school teachers.  InformNet is one option that helps teachers provide remote learning to their students. If teachers are already using a remote learning system or platform, they are encouraged to continue using it.  Manitoba Education is also expanding print-based courses that are currently offered by the department. More information is coming from Informnet will be sent to divisions soon.

2. Are June report cards expected for all grades K-12?

The minister has made the commitment that students will receive final report cards.

3. If report cards are to be based on sound assessment practices and teaching principles, will it be fair to expect teachers to perform this task given the circumstances?

There is an expectation that both learning and assessment continue until the end of the school year.  Manitoba Education and school divisions are working closely to support teachers in implementing creative solutions to continue teaching and assessing their students.

4. Page 2 of the Manitoba government plan document states, “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.” Does this mean summative assessment of students will be taking place going forward?

The baseline grade is the grade that was attained by the student before the suspension of classes. The minister has stated that students are expected to continue completing assignments and participating in learning. Continued teaching and assessment by teachers will provide opportunities for students to do so. Where needed, teachers will identify courses that require recovery learning.  As this is an unprecedented time in education, Manitoba Education and stakeholders are working on what the future will look like.

5. Will high school teachers be teaching to the previously established exam dates or until June 30th?

This is still being determined.  Manitoba Education is trying to replicate in class learning schedules as much as possible and final exams/alternative assessments are still being considered.

6. What about vocational students?

Manitoba Education acknowledges that replacing hands-on learning with a remote option will be a challenge.  School divisions and the department are working closely to find creative alternatives to hands-on instruction.  Resources are expected to be uploaded to Maple soon to support this continued learning.  All students will have a final grade.

7. What about French immersion students?

Teachers in French Immersion programs should be regularly reaching out to parents to provide support.  Also, the Bureau de l’éducation française is working closely with school divisions with French Immersion programs to develop and distribute resources to parents with children in French Immersion programs.

8. What about students with limited internet connectivity and/or no access to technological devices?

Manitoba Education is aware that access to technology varies across the province and is working quickly to scale up existing print-based options that are available from the department. There is also a provincial working group dedicated to students with limited access to technology.

When will I be back in the classroom?

Manitoba is suspending classroom learning for kindergarten to Grade 12 students indefinitely for the 2019/20 school year. If at any time the Public Health Officer deems it safe to re-open schools, the suspension will be lifted.

What are the expectations for working from home?

Learning from home will continue, classes are not cancelled. Teachers are expected to teach remotely, assign work, conduct assessments and prepare final report cards.

For non-instructional staff, the expectation is that they are supporting learning outcomes, recognizing that this may look different than their current assignments.

Teachers will need to follow division specific guidelines when working from home, which can include but is not limited to, being available during work hours, checking in with principals, providing weekly work plans, etc.

What about the students?

For students in Grade 12, provincial exams will be cancelled, but teacher assessments will be implemented.

For students in early and middle years, provincial assessments are complete for the current school year, but other assessments will continue.

No student will be held back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Grades will be based on the last in school records, but opportunities must exist to improve on those grades. There will be more information coming on what this will look like.

All students on track to graduate will do so.

Will I be paid?

Teachers are expected to continue to work from home during this time. All teachers on contract will be paid their regular salary.

What about teachers on term contracts?

All term contracts expire no later than June 30, 2020.

What about substitute teachers?

Employment Insurance rules are being relaxed for workers like substitute teachers who lose work due to the pandemic. Substitute teachers can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Applications for EI and CERB can be accessed here.

What about areas with inadequate internet connectivity?

The province is looking at distance education learning options and the distribution of materials utilizing school division staff.

What about summer break?

Summer break will take place as usual.

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.


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.