WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba teacher is reflecting on the province’s first year of the COVID -19 pandemic, highlighting how much the classroom experience has changed.

“It’s very different,” said Joanne Mulvena, a Grade 5 teacher at Beaumont School.

“When we came back to school this year and we had to follow all the safety protocols, of course, some of the ways that we would be used to teaching, we’re not doing.”

Mulvena said she thinks kids are getting the same quality of education as they were pre-pandemic, however, teachers and students can’t do all the things they did before March 2020, because of public health guidelines.

“We’ve all adapted to that and we just have to do different strategies,” she said.

“The kids have been unbelievable and have been so resilient.”


Mulvena said before COVID-19 arrived in Manitoba, the situation seemed surreal. 

“The kids had a lot of questions, I didn’t have a lot of answers,” she said.

She said on March 12, 2020 – exactly one year ago – when Manitoba announced its first presumptive positive case, everything became more real and scary for everyone. 

Mulvena noted that the panic really set in for teachers during the weeks leading up to spring break.

“All of a sudden we knew we would have to go online and teach through a medium that we weren’t familiar with,” she said.

However, Mulvena said over time they were all able to figure things out together.

“Everybody was really gracious with everybody – students, parents, coworkers - and we were able to get going with it and experiment,” she said.


With mental health being a cause of concern during the pandemic, Mulvena said she started out the year by focusing on mental health, including teaching students about how the brain responds to stress, and strategies to self-regulate.

“I thought we had to address those things and have those strategies before we could go dig deep into the curriculum,” she said.

Mulvena added there should be clear communication between parents and teachers, and they should all be working together to help students during this difficult time. 

“Just keep reassuring them that school is a safe place and that we’re here, primarily, to keep them safe and to help them learn,” she said.

- With files from CTV’s Michael Hutchinson.