WINNIPEG -- Notebooks, pens, and pencils are just some of the items that are currently off-limits when shopping in Manitoba stores.

Thousands of students are set to move to remote learning come January, and the shopping restrictions are posing another challenge for parents.

Erynn Vermette has six children, one of whom has already moved to remote learning, and needed to pick up some supplies for her daughter when she was surprised to find she couldn't.

"I just found it bizarre, like, our children are still in school, and I'd gone into the dollar store to try to buy some poster board and I couldn't get any, and I was like, 'What do you mean that's not available?'" said Vermette.

Another one of her children will move to remote learning temporarily in January under a new mandate from the province.

On Wednesday, Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced Grade 7 to 12 students will have to learn remotely for two weeks following the winter break.

The option is being offered for younger students, though it's not mandatory.

Under the current public health orders, Manitobans can only buy essential items in person. This does not include school supplies.

"There are options like curb side pickup and ordering online, but sometimes when you're in a bind or you don't want to pay the inflated prices that some of those things can go for, going to the dollar store is more convenient and more feasible for a lot of families," Vermette said.

The current health orders are set to expire Dec. 11, which could mean school supplies may be allowed to be sold in stores after that date.

"We're working right now on what the next set of restrictions will look like," said Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin.

"There's no doubt from these numbers that we will need restrictions in place, but we're reviewing a number of things on how they may be different."

Vermette feels better prepared for remote learning this time around, though questions why school supplies aren't considered essential items.

"My community definitely stepped up. They helped. They offered to get me what I needed, so thankfully I'm okay, but I don't know for other parents if they're struggling, too," said Vermette.

"We're kind of in that window where it's like is it really going to help if they lift it tomorrow or can we wait another week?"

The retail restrictions which outlined what was considered an essential item came into effect Nov. 20.