The highly-anticipated announcement will come at a press conference with Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen and Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief medical health officer, scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.
Global News will stream the event live in this story.
Late last month Goertzen announced students will head back to their studies in September and asked school divisions to come up with one of three plans for how they would like to come back to class.
At the time the province released a planning framework giving guidance for school divisions to work out “detailed reopening plans” under three scenarios.
Manitoba school reopening plans
The first scenario would see a near-normal return to school, subject to physical distancing requirements and limitations on gatherings, busing and other items, if COVID-19 numbers remain low.
If the pandemic becomes severe, the school system will rely on online learning and classrooms will be shut except for small-group tutoring and assessments.
The middle-case scenario would see students kept in cohorts with a small number of classmates who would likely stay together throughout the day. Kids in elementary and middle school would continue to go to class five days a week, while high school students could be cut back to two days in class and three days online.
The province is expected to release details on Friday as to which scenario they’re planning for.
Goertzen has said the plan is for all students to return to classroom learning in the fall, if possible.
The province has previously said schools will reopen on Sept. 8 — with teachers and staff returning Sept. 2 to get ready.
The province also says parents and students can expect fewer assemblies and reduced bus services.
‘We’re in a cautionary tale right now’
If the provincial plan includes classroom learning, a Winnipeg-based researcher who studies infectious diseases and viruses says he hopes to see mask-wearing made mandatory for students and staff.
“There’s a lot more data coming out that [kids] can carry quite a bit of virus, or a similar virus to what we see in adults,” said Dr. Jason Kindrachuk, a University of Manitoba assistant medical microbiology professor and Canada research chair.
Answering your COVID-19 questions, July 30
“We don’t know what that means in terms of transmission, but we’re in a cautionary tale right now — we want to make sure that we’re not seeing transmission among those students — especially back to their respective families and family members.”
“We’re seeing, I think, a stronger push for the use of masks.”
As jurisdictions across Canada move to make mask-wearing mandatory, Manitoba’s chief public health officer said this week he doesn’t anticipate mandating mask use in public spaces, but added that may change in the fall.
“I think that, again, as we move closer to respiratory virus season masks are probably going to become more and more a part of our dialogue,” Roussin said Monday.
“As of right now, we don’t have any imminent plans to mandate. But just like any of our public health work, we’ll do whatever we need to protect the health of Manitobans.”
As of Wednesday health officials said Manitoba has 74 known active cases of COVID-19. Since March the province has recorded 407 lab-confirmed and probable cases and eight people have died of the virus.
Manitoba parents call for more clarity
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
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