WINNIPEG -- Students in Manitoba are getting ready for school on September 8, and school divisions in the province are making sure school is a safe place to learn.

Pembina Trails School Division published its plan for opening schools earlier this summer, but after getting feedback from the community, they decided to make an amendment.

“We have expanded our program for immunosuppressed or immunocompromised students, that now includes students who are living in a home with someone who is immunocompromised," said Ted Fransen, Superintendent for Pembina Trails School Division.

In June, Pembina Trails surveyed the entire division to assess the needs and concerns of families in the area, and it received over 2,000 responses.

Fransen said the survey data showed parents wanted their kids back in school.

In the weeks leading up to the first day, the message from some families started to change.

“Parents are saying with the increased number of COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, maybe it’s time that we reconsider our plan for children who have an immunocompromised situation.”

In the Personal Risk Factors section of the province’s Restoring Safe Schools guidelines, it said :

“Arrangements will be needed for students, administrators, and school staff who may be at higher risk of COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions or other risk factors.”

The Winnipeg School Division (WSD) said it applauds the steps Pembina Trails took to clarify it’s remote learning guidelines.

The WSD’s interpretation of the province’s guidelines led them to believe this was always an option, and it’s offering medical assessment letters to students who may need to learn from home.

“Whether a student themselves is immunocompromised, has a chronic condition, or if they live in close proximity with somebody, they may require support for remote learning,” said Radean Carter, Senior Information Officer for the Winnipeg School Division.

She said parents of any students requiring remote learning need to provide a physician’s note to the school.

For students who don’t qualify for remote learning, and will be homeschooled instead, their parents must register them with Home School Manitoba.

Fransen said the Pembina Trials School Division has worked hard with the help of public health officials to prepare for the first day of school.

“We believe that we have done the very best we possibly could to prepare for a safe opening day on September 8th.”

Fransen said many parents in the division have reached out to thank them for updating the remote learning guidelines, but some parents say it’s not enough, and even though they aren’t immunocompromised they still want to qualify for remote learning.


This story previously said students participating in remote learning need to register with Home School Manitoba. It has been corrected to say that those who are being homeschooled, and don’t qualify for remote learning, must register with Home School Manitoba.