WINNIPEG -- Schools in Manitoba have seen a dramatic drop in attendance numbers in the past few days, as divisions across the province prepare to suspend classes in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Schools across Manitoba are scheduled to suspend classes for three weeks beginning on March 23, but thousands of Manitoba students aren't waiting for next Monday.

READ MORE: Manitoba is closing all of its schools due to COVID-19

By the end of the day on Monday, student absences in the Winnipeg School Division climbed to over 18,000, more than half of the students in the division, a WSD spokesperson told CTV News Winnipeg. As of Tuesday afternoon, the spokesperson said the division was experiencing similar absence rates.

The Louis Riel School Division said that nearly 7,000 students were absent on Monday, more than three times higher than the average.

River East Transcona said approximately 56 per cent of students were absent on Tuesday, and less than 50 per cent of students in the Seven Oaks School Division showed up for class on Monday and Tuesday.

This comes after the Manitoba Teachers' Society urged the province to shut schools down immediately in the wake of a growing pandemic in Manitoba.

READ MORE: MB teachers urging province for sooner school closures for COVID-19

Currently there have been eight COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, seven of which have been in Winnipeg; one has been in the Interlake-Eastern region.