Schools in Manitoba are set to open on Monday to regular classes while the highly contagious Omicron variant continues its rapid spread across the province, and that has one school division now wondering if they should offer both in-person and virtual classes.
In a letter sent out to families on Wednesday, the Brandon School Division said they were now considering the idea of offering a K-8 remote learning option along with their regular in-person classes.
With 24 K-12 schools located in the city of Brandon and the surrounding areas, the division said the option would allow for some students to continue learning virtually, depending on what their parents or families believe would be best.
In the letter, the division said they are considering this option, as they want to be as accommodating to students and families as possible.
Anxiety has been on the rise among many parents in Manitoba recently because of the quick spread of Omicron, and because the province announced this week they would be changing their strategy for contract tracing in schools, and no longer notifying close contacts about individual cases of COVID-19.
"We consider schools to be safe and the best place for our students,” the letter read. “However, we also understand that every family situation is different and unique, and we are trying to accommodate these situations as much as possible.”
In the letter, the division also said that if families choose the virtual option it would leave parents or guardians with some responsibilities as well, as caregivers would be asked to supervise their children during both online and independent work, while also being available to contact teachers if necessary.
The division said they are still in the process of deciding whether or not to go forward with the idea depending on interest, but that any parents or guardians interested in enrolling their child into remote learning for the semester should contact their kid’s school no later than 4 p.m. on Monday.
If they go ahead with the plan, parents will be notified by Jan. 19, and then virtual classes would start the first week of February.
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun