Public school divisions asked to assist hub for remote learning

·2 min read

Manitoba Education is seeking back-up for its remote-learning hub from staff who work in the province’s 37 public school divisions.

“The province issued a call to school divisions for staff who might be interested in working with the Manitoba Remote Learning Support Centre as part of a team,” a spokesperson for the department said in a statement Friday.

Division participation is voluntary, but the spokesperson said interested administrators are expected to identify staff, resources and best practices for the support centre.

The team of staffers, which is separate from the teaching positions the province is currently hiring for, will help create the centre’s bank of distance-learning lessons and assessment resources, the spokesperson added.

The Brandon School Division confirmed Friday one of its staff members will work with the hub once it launches.

In a statement, assistant superintendent Mathew Gustafson said BSD joined a group of other divisions to create the Westman Consortia to provide remote learning for students with medical exemptions this fall.

The new centre will provide additional resources the division “will explore and utilize as the centre evolves,” Gustafson said.

Also Friday, the Hanover School Division indicated one of its instructional coaches will help develop the centre, but will remain a division employee.

When reached Friday, superintendents at Seine River, Seven Oaks and Prairie Spirit divisions indicated they had no plans to redeploy staff to support the centre.

“We’d much rather keep our students connected to their home schools,” Brian O’Leary of Seven Oaks wrote in an email, in which he noted current programming keeps students connected to their classrooms.

Earlier this month, the province announced plans to hire 100 teachers to staff the $10-million support centre for teachers and parents doing remote instruction.

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, among other critics, have questioned how the province will find qualified applicants, given schools are struggling to cover substitute requests because of public health directives to stay home if symptomatic and COVID-19 exposure quarantine periods.

The province confirmed Friday it will accept applications from outside Manitoba.

The centre is expected to launch next month; the education minister suggested it would be up and running this month when he unveiled the project, but the province extended the job application deadline to Dec. 2.

Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press