Pandemic PlanningMarch 17, 2022
March 8, 2022
Manitoba Public Health has announced that, effective next Tuesday, March 15, masks will no longer be a requirement in indoor places including schools.
While it is no longer mandated through public health orders, Winnipeg School Division strongly recommends that staff and students continue to wear masks when indoors and while riding on a school bus.
Masks have been just one measure in WSD’s larger strategy to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in our schools. We will continue to focus on the fundamentals, which include staying home if you are sick, getting tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19, washing hands frequently and maintaining physical distance as much as possible. WSD staff will continue to take extra measures in cleaning and sanitizing in schools.
Wearing a mask has now become a personal choice and we ask that our school communities respect each other’s decision. As a society, we are transitioning into a post-pandemic world. After two years of pandemic, each student will have a different level of comfort with the easing of restrictions. Parents, guardians, caregivers and school staff can all model, for our children, behaviours that are supportive and accepting.
January 14, 2022
As announced by the Manitoba Government, all students will be returning to in-school learning on Monday, Jan. 17. Over the past week, schools have been planning for that return based on the updated Restricted: Orange guidelines on the Manitoba Pandemic Response System.
Winnipeg School Division has taken the following steps to mitigate COVID-19 transmission in our schools:
During the week of January 10, 2022, absenteeism among staff across Winnipeg School Division has remained within a normal range for this time of year. Senior administration is preparing, however, for higher rates of absenteeism due to the impact of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Supply teachers have been hired to assist with maintaining instruction and appropriate supervision.
If there is insufficient staff or substitutes, classes may be cancelled and in an extreme case, our school may need to temporarily close. This will be communicated to families as early as possible so that you can plan accordingly.
- As they have been since September 2021, all schools will ensure two metres of physical distancing between students to the greatest extent possible.
- Staff in schools have done all they can to ensure two metres of physical distancing. As the government has directed us that we are unable to consider remote learning for some students or for a portion of the day, we cannot ensure and maintain two metres of physical distancing for all students and staff.
- Students in Nursery to Grade 6 will continue to remain in cohorts at all times.
- The use of wind instruments and singing will only be permitted if two metres of distancing can be maintained.
- All teachers are encouraged to continue to leverage outdoor learning as the weather permits.
Mitigating Risk During the Lunch Period
- Periods throughout the day when students and staff must remove their masks include lunch/snack time which make them a high-risk time of the day. WSD is reimplementing in-class lunch supervision to ensure cohorts are maintained and to reduce hallway congestion.
- If students can go home for lunch, they should. This will allow us to better mitigate risk for those students who have to stay for lunch.
- As outlined by the Manitoba government, non-medical masks are required indoors (including school buses) for all K to 12 students. Click here for more information on masks.
- WSD strongly encourages students to wear a well-fitted, three-layer mask and will continue providing medical-grade masks for students who require them.
- Students must also wear a mask while in the gym and participating in school-based indoor athletic activities.
Learning from Home
Based on government direction, all students are expected to return to in-class learning unless otherwise directed by public health officials. If a family is making the decision to keep their child(ren) home from in-school learning, schools will not be able to provide remote learning. Please contact us at the school to discuss further if you choose to keep your child home for an extended period of time.
If your child has tested positive for COVID-19 or has illness requiring them to remain home, teachers will prepare a learning package of independent work and activities to practice skills already taught.
Sports and Extracurricular Activities
Grades 7 and 8
Interscholastic games will not be permitted at this time. Teams may practice and play within their home school.
Grades 9 to 12
In accordance with provincial Restricted: Orange guidelines, if all public health measures are being followed, sports and extracurricular activities will resume as normal. No tournaments are currently permitted.
Potential Temporary Class or School Closures
In the event that staff coverage is unavailable, a classroom, cluster of classrooms, or school may need to be reconfigured or closed temporarily—the extent of time will depend on staff/student illness and availability of substitute staff. We will do our best to communicate this to parents/guardians the day prior. Please note that this communication may come in the late evening, so parents should watch their email as well as the school website and social media accounts for updates. We understand this will be challenging communication, however, the additional time after the end of the school day may allow us to fill the vacancies.
Rapid Antigen Test Distribution and Use
Schools are currently working to distribute a very limited supply of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) to students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 as directed by the government.
Notification of a Positive COVID-19 Case
Manitoba Public Health has announced changes to how positive cases in schools will be communicated to the community. As a result, there will no longer be close contact notification and notification letters on individual cases.
We will be monitoring absentee levels in our schools and school communities will be informed weekly about their school situation. If we see an increase to COVID-19 related student absenteeism, we will alert Public Health and follow their direction on communicating next steps with our school communities.
It continues to be very important for our families to let their school know if your child has tested positive for COVID-19. This will help us in monitoring and keeping Public Health informed. We are also continuing to follow our established protocol when we have been notified of a positive case, which includes extra cleaning and sanitizing, including electrostatic fogging.
Please see the updated infographics below:
Transportation will be running as it has since the beginning of the school year, separated by bus cohorts with masks being required and provided if needed. Transportation delays and cancellations due to staffing shortages or other circumstances will continue to be communicated through School Messenger and posted on the WSD website homepage notifications.
WSD has implemented a number of processes to review and optimize the ventilation system in our schools which includes:
- All supply and return grills within classrooms inspected to ensure they are clean and not blocked to ensure maximum air flow.
- Ventilation ductwork and reheat coils cleaned, where required, to improve air quality and flow.
- Air filtration upgrades to MERV 13 filters, where possible, to further improve the ventilation.
- All classrooms measured and balanced to maximize air flows in the school.
WSD has retained a Mechanical Consultant to review system airflows and capacities in our schools to determine if improvements in ventilation can be provided without adversely impacting equipment performance.
November 15, 2021
In an effort to slow the rising transmission of COVID-19 in our communities, the current public health orders will be changing. Starting on December 6, all students who are eligible to be vaccinated must provide proof of vaccination to participate in indoor extra-curricular sports or show proof of a recent negative rapid antigen test. Students with one dose will be permitted to participate without testing.
Students will not require proof of vaccination to participate in physical education, as this is part of the school curriculum. The public health orders apply to permits issued for community use of schools.
August 24, 2021
August 20, 2021
August 17, 2021
On August 5, 2021, Manitoba Education announced that all schools in the province will be returning to full-time in class learning. All Grade 1 to 12 students in Winnipeg School Division (WSD) will be returning to school on September 8, 2021, with Nursery and Kindergarten students starting the following week.
School will resume with near-normal operations, similar to how the 2020/21 year began. All schools in WSD have plans to support our students and staff that have been adjusted over the past year of the pandemic to ensure the safest possible environment.
Public Health and Manitoba Education have advised all school divisions that public health guidance, including mask guidance, will be reviewed again before the beginning of the school year and on an ongoing basis to ensure that the measures are responsive to the public health situation at that time. For more information, go to Manitoba Education "Restoring Safe Schools - Planning for the 2021/22 School Year a guide for Parents and Caregivers"
Request to Mandate Masks
The WSD Board of Trustees and I acknowledge and appreciate all the parents and community members who have reached out to WSD to express support for mandating masks and reduced class sizes, as well as maintaining cohorts and meeting ventilation requirements to keep all students and staff safe and healthy upon return to school in September.
The members of the Board of Trustees have requested that the Minister of Education reconsider their provincial announcement at the beginning of August and mandate masks for all students in schools, as well as staff and visitors in an effort to reduce the spread of the Delta Variant and maintain our health and safety. You can view the letter to the minister here: Return to Safe School Plan - Letter to Minister Cullen
WSD is continuously reviewing and implementing all measures possible to protect our students and staff. At this time WSD will be:
- maintaining cohorts for our younger students
- providing masks and sanitizer
- maintaining distance requirements
- providing assigned seating on school busses
- expecting that all staff and students continue daily screening for symptoms of COVID 19 and remaining at home if they are symptomatic
- encouraging regular handwashing
- utilizing the outdoor learning environments whenever possible
In addition, during the pandemic, WSD has been and will continue to optimize the existing ventilation systems to maximize outside air in order to provide proper indoor temperature and air flow. The control measures taken are:
- providing 100 percent outside fresh air to maximize air exchange within buildings
- opening windows
- through WSD’s building automation system (DDC) we are:
- setting dampers to be 100 percent open, weather dependent
- setting all CO2 set points to be set at 450 ppm
- running ventilation systems continuously from 4 a.m. to 12 midnight on a daily basis
- Regularly checking the operation of ventilation systems and replacing filters more frequently
WSD will continue to monitor the public health situation and advocate with the Minister of Education and Public Health for measures to ensure that all students and staff can learn and teach in a safe and healthy environment during the 2021/2022 school year.
We look forward to welcoming our students back, in person, to the classroom and to the many learning activities and programs that help engage them to become confident, inspired and successful learners.
PARENTS AND GUARDIANS GUIDE 2021–22 SCHOOL YEAR
Return to near normal daily in-school classes with health measures
Learning in the new school year
Students will return to school daily for Nursery to Grade 12 starting September 8 (week of September 13 for Nursery and Kindergarten).
There are health measures that everyone has to follow to continue reducing the risk of COVID-19 and help stay safe. While your school has developed a plan to meet the government’s health recommendations, everyone will have a role to play.
PARENTS’ ROLE IN KEEPING SCHOOLS SAFE
Screen for symptoms every morning
Check every morning to see if your child has any of these symptoms.Please note that even if a person is fully vaccinated for COVID-19, any of these symptoms mean they must stay home from work or school.
If yes, they must stay at home:
- Fever, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, sore throat, chills, painful swallowing
- Runny nose/nasal congestion, feeling unwell/fatigued, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, unexplained loss of appetite
- Loss of sense of taste or smell, muscle/joint aches, headache, Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Students, parents or family members must not enter school if they:
- Feel sick or have symptoms of COVID-19
- Have anyone in the household who has been in close contact in the last 14 days with someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19
- Have traveled outside of Canada in the last 14 days
- Had close contact with someone who has travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days and who is ill
Keep a safe distance
Keep 2 metres between you and others when possible:
- During drop-off and pick-up
- During interactions with a teacher, school staff or other parents and students
- Pick up students promptly if they show symptoms at school
You will be asked to pick up your child from school immediately if they show symptoms. Please ensure the school has your most up-to-date contact information so they may reach you if your child needs to be picked up.
Taking your child to school
If your child normally takes the bus, consider taking them directly to school if your personal situation allows for it. This helps with physical distancing on the bus for students who do not have other options besides taking the bus.
WHAT STUDENTS NEED TO KNOW
Talk to your child about the health measures to help them prepare for the first day of school. This will be a reminder for most students as they have been taking these measures for the past year of the pandemic:
- Sanitize hands before entering school and classrooms
- Keep a distance between others and follow marks in hallways
- Masks are recommended for all students, staff and visitors
- Do not share food or personal items
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow
- Tell staff if feeling sick at school
- Lunch and recess time may change to allow for more physical distancing
- Students may be asked to stay in their own cohort to decrease contact with others
- Students who take the bus will have to sit in the same seat every day
- Students in Grade 4 and higher must wear non-medical masks on school busses
A cohort is a group of students who remain together. The size of the cohort will depend on the physical space of the classroom.
The risk of COVID-19 is reduced by limiting exposure to others. Staying in a cohort also makes contact tracing easier and faster if there is a suspected case of COVID-19.
Your child may feel nervous about what school will be like. While there will be changes, the key school experience will be the same as before—they will learn in class with their teacher and see friends.
HEALTH MEASURES AT SCHOOLS
Schools will continue to follow detailed health guidelines to prepare for the return of students. For example:
Increased cleaning and disinfection of high touch areas and shared equipment
Physical distancing when possible, which may include:
- Stagger pick-up and drop-off times
- One-way or marked hallways and designated entrance and exit doors
- Leave space between desks and tables
- Stagger start and end-times for classes and lunchtime to avoid crowded hallways
- Limiting bathroom occupancy
When physical distancing is not possible, extra emphasis will be on hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, and cleaning.
Students, where possible, will be cohorted by class.
Non-medical masks are recommended by Manitoba Public Health for all staff, for students Grade 4 and up, and are encouraged for students in all grades.
- Video on how to effectively take on and off a mask – For students (middle/senior) and staff
- Video on why masks are important – For students (early/elementary)
- Video on how to effectively wash your hands – For students (early/elementary)
- Video on how to effectively wash your hands – For students (middle/senior) and staff
- Video on reducing the spread of COVID-19: Hygiene – For students (early/elementary)
- Back to School - Help Keep Our Schools Safe - PDF - EN.pdf
- Back to School - Help Keep Our Schools Safe - PDF - FR.pdf