Pembina Trails School Division extends remote learning to students with immunocompromised family members

The Pembina Trails School Division is extending remote learning this upcoming school year not just to students with weakened immune systems, but to students who live with family members who are immunocompromised.

Winnipeg division hired extra teachers to staff online classrooms for kindergarten to Grade 8

Remote-learning still requires a lot of parental oversight, according to some families in Ottawa who chose that option. (Juliya Shangarey/Shutterstock)

The Pembina Trails School Division will offer remote learning this upcoming school year to students who live with someone who is immunocompromised, in addition to students with weakened immune systems.

The southwest Winnipeg division made the announcement on Monday following feedback from parents, including a survey in June, Superintendent Ted Fransen told CBC News.

"It became evident to us that families and households, who had immunocompromised family members living with our students, were also being put into some concern so we responded with an increased plan." 

Under the plan, students will be instructed daily by a teacher online, in real-time, through Microsoft Teams. Learning will also include pre-recorded videos and printable resources and assignments.

Parents will be expected to monitor their child's coursework.

"The role of the parents is of course critical here because our students are young learners and they can't be on their own," Fransen said. 

Division hires extra teachers for online-learning

The division has created new positions and is hiring teachers to staff online learning classrooms from kindergarten to Grade 8, Fransen said.

Families are being asked to contact with their child's school principal about the option. To register, a doctor's note will be required.

 The division said remote learning will begin the week of Sept. 14.

Under Manitoba's return to school plan, students in kindergarten to Grade 8 are expected to attend classes in school full-time and high school students will participate through a combination of in-class and remote learning, unless a student is immunocompromised.

Parent dismayed remote learning not more widely available

Despite calls to make remote learning an option for all families, anyone who does not wish to send their child to school in Manitoba must register to home-school them.

That's not an option for many parents, and some are afraid to send their children to school without more safety measures in place, says Caryn Suderman, a parent of two school-aged children in the Pembina Trails School Division.

"All these things we've done, all these steps we've taken, it feels like they're just gambling it all away and forcing my kids to go to school with other people's kids. Maybe these other people don't care, maybe they're not taking it seriously," she said.

"It's crazy for them to not give us choices so we can choose properly for our family's safety."

Suderman says remote learning should be available to all students in Manitoba as COVID-19 case counts rise, because she says everyone is at risk.

With files from Rachel Bergen


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