St. Vital school among several in Manitoba moving to remote learning as COVID-19 case numbers climb

In a letter to parents and guardians on Friday, Louis Riel School Division superintendent Christian Michalik said there have been several confirmed cases among staff members and students at École Marie-Anne Gaboury since last week.

At least 5 schools, including École Marie-Anne Gaboury, have recently shifted to remote learning

Classrooms will be mostly empty for the next two weeks as École Marie-Anne-Gaboury shifts to remote learning. (BlurryMe/Shutterstock)

A school in Winnipeg's St. Vital neighbourhood is among a number of Manitoba schools shifting to online learning for two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, after several cases were confirmed among staff members and students.

Louis Riel School Division superintendent Christian Michalik announced the shift to online learning at École Marie-Anne Gaboury in a letter to parents and guardians on Friday.

As of Friday, there are 12 positive cases at the school among both students and staff, Michalik told CBC News in an emailed statement Saturday.

As a result, 103 students — or 26 per cent of the total student population — are required to self-isolate at home, he wrote.

In his letter to parents, Michalik wrote that if in-school classes continued, the division would likely find itself unable to adequately staff the school due to the spread of the illness.

The decision will prevent the spread in the school, and ensure staff can offer remote learning for the next two weeks, the letter stated.

All students in the K-8 school will learn at home from Monday, April 26, to Friday, May 7, but parents and guardians who are essential workers can call the school to make in-school learning arrangements.

The situation will be reassessed prior to May 10, Michalik's letter said.

More cases in schools

At least four other schools in the province have also recently moved to remote learning, as COVID-19 case numbers climb.

All three schools in the Interlake town of Gimli made that change last week.

As of Thursday, five cases of COVID-19 have been identified that are connected with Gimli High School, including four confirmed cases involving a more contagious coronavirus variant, a notice on the school divisions website says.

The Gimli High School is one of three schools in the Interlake community that have been closed due to positive cases of COVID-19. As of Thursday there were five COVID-19 cases including four variants of concern at the school and 33 families are isolating. (CBC)

There are also four cases at Gimli's Dr. George Johnson Middle School, with two instances involving a variant of concern, and Sigurbjorg Stefansson Early School has five cases, with one variant of concern case. An estimated 73 families are considered close contacts, the Evergreen School Division's website says.

The Gimli schools will stay with remote learning until at least April 30, but the division will decide next week when in-person classes can resume, based on the number of cases, contact tracing and staffing capacity, the notice said.

Elsewhere, Pilot Mound Collegiate Institute has also shifted to remote learning until May 3, its website says. The province's online dashboard says in the two weeks leading up to April 20,  there were 10 cases of COVID-19 at the school in the small town, which is about 150 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.

There were 244 cases of COVID-19 reported in all Manitoba schools in the same time period and 70 cases involving coronavirus variants of concern, according to provincial data.

The province has said COVID-19 cases among younger Manitobans are increasing, especially among those under 19.

However, there are still no plans to shut down schools in the province, acting deputy chief public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said in a press conference on Friday.