Spending on Safety Urged

Public Health has announced that effective Monday, November 2, 2020 the Winnipeg Metropolitan area will be moving to the red (critical) level on the Pandemic Response System and the rest of the province will be moving to orange.

Beginning on Monday, all schools across the province will be operating at the orange (restricted) level.

Schools in the Winnipeg Metropolitan area will continue to operate as they have been since last week, while schools in the rest of the province will move to blended-learning for Grades 9-12, with voluntary blended-learning being temporarily available for K-8 students.

“Teachers have been and continue to be ready to do their part to arrest the spread of COVID-19, however, the government must do its part to protect them, too,” said MTS vice-president Nathan Martindale. “While it closes non-essential services, the province needs to open the tap on funding intended to keep our teachers and students safe.”

The Society has been calling on the government to hire more teachers and educational assistants to facilitate a reduction in class size to achieve the recommended two-metres of physical distance.

“We have yet to see evidence of the more than $85 million in federal funds intended to provide support to our schools during this pandemic,” he said. “Some of this money can certainly be used to hire teachers and EAs.”

The Society is also concerned that the move to blended-learning across the province, coupled with a shortage of educators, will result in even more divisions adopting the “duplex model” – splitting one classroom into two to allow for two-metres of physical distance, as required under the orange level.

“This model means one teacher is now responsible for two distinct sets of learners in two different locations,” he said. “The blended aspect, further complicates things because one teacher could then be responsible for students in the classroom, as well as remotely.”

He said that taking some of the “extras” off the plates of teachers, would go a long way in helping alleviate growing workloads and lessen stress levels as the pandemic continues.

“Report cards and teacher evaluations are currently in progress,” he said. “It might seem inconsequential to the public, but to teachers this is a huge undertaking – in a time of uncertainty and chaos – it is one more thing to do. Taking report cards and evaluations off the plates of teachers is something the government can do now to help teachers do what they do best – teach.”

The new measures will be in place for at least two weeks.