Northern, Winnipeg Teachers Face New Rules

New blended learning option ‘setting teachers up to fail’

Manitoba’s Chief Public Heath Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin today announced that schools in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region and the Northern health regions would be moving to the orange level on the pandemic response scale, with new measures in place as of Monday.

Under the orange level, K-8 students in these regions “may be offered a temporary remote learning option for the duration of the restricted level status.”

There will be no change to the blended-learning approach currently in place for Grades 9 and 12.

James Bedford, president of The Manitoba Teachers Society, says MTS does not oppose temporary blended-learning to ensure student and staff safety. “However, teachers need appropriate transition time, resources and supports to ensure a successful and sustainable shift to temporary blended-learning.

“Teachers need time to coordinate and manage team teaching.  They need continuing support to make this significant shift in curriculum planning and delivery.

“We cannot have a system in which teachers are teaching in the classroom and online at the same time. The minister himself has said this is unreasonable.”

Bedford stressed that teachers want their students to succeed, but if the government keeps adding more and more on to their plates, without taking anything off, this is going to lead to burnout.

“We’ve said it time and time again, teachers’ working environments and students’ learning environments are directly linked. If teachers burnout, students’ learning outcomes will be negatively affected.

“This plan is setting teachers up to fail.”

As of Monday, October 26th, schools in the City of Winnipeg and the North must:

  1. Ensure two meters of physical distancing to the greatest extent possible,
  2. Adjust classroom spaces as necessary, removing excess furniture to create additional space.
  3. Other spaces within school such as libraries and common areas must be repurposed to accommodate this.
  4. Extracurricular activities are only permitted if all learning and distancing requirements have been met. If these activities continue, established guidelines must be followed.
  5. In the case of sports, participants should maintain safe distances even when not active.
  6. Teachers and staff who move across cohorts of students including substitute teachers are required to wear medical masks. N95 masks are not required in these circumstances.
  7. Indoor choir and use of wind instruments are not permitted. Field trips must be postponed or cancelled.”

Bedford says The Society will continue to speak directly to government about all the details of today’s announcement – particularly those involving blended learning.