Manitoba Teachers Society had asked the province to shift to Code Red status
As the COVID-19 Omicron variant becomes the dominant strain across Manitoba and 1,757 new cases were reported today, Premier Stefanson and Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced a phased-in approach of back to school.
“Our government’s number one priority is to protect the health and well-being of all Manitobans, especially our children, youth and most vulnerable citizens,” said Stefanson. “Today we are announcing a slight adjustment for the return to classes to give schools additional time to implement enhanced protocols to ensure in-person learning for all students can continue under our pandemic plans and give public health more time to learn about the omicron variant’s effects in Manitoba. We know our children learn best in a classroom setting and it is our goal to ensure they can return to the classroom as quickly as possible.”
Effective Jan. 10, 2022, a phased-in approach will be applied to allow students of critical service workers in kindergarten to Grade 6 and all high-risk students and students with special learning needs in kindergarten to Grade 12 to attend school if no alternate care is available. Current plans are to have all other students return to in-person learning on Jan. 17.”
The Manitoba Teachers Society President James Bedford called on the provincial government to move to code red for the month of January. “We recognize the students of critical services workers will be in school during code red,” he said. “It is crucial that the province provide medical-grade masks for all education staff working in schools during remote learning.”
Manitoba’s test positivity rates sit at a staggering 32% which puts the province at Code Orange. The government has not yet indicated if or when it will move the province into Code Red and initiate another circuit breaker to slow the spread of the virus. Manitobans were hoping for more clarity on the government’s COVID strategy especially considering the pending January Cabinet shuffle as indicated by the Premier.
A Cabinet shuffle will most certainly put Manitobans in a vicarious position for wanting continuity and a consistent message for handling the pandemic. As of now, Premier Stefanson is mum about replacing currently Health Minister Audrey Gordon in the upcoming shuffle. If she was to be replaced, the new Health Minister will be the provinces’ fourth within the short term of the Conservative Governments new mandate.