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The Manitoba government announced on Monday that it is creating a resource centre to help with remote learning across the province.

Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen made the announcement at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building, noting the province is investing $10 million in the centre from the federal government’s Safe Return to Class fund. The minister said Manitoba is hiring more than 100 teachers and 20 educational assistants for the centre, as well as clinicians and IT support.

The province said the goal of the support centre is to:

  • Provide a coordinated approach to make sure all students can access and engage in high-quality learning;
  • Support teachers working remotely by creating a support team and professional development opportunities;
  • Support students and families learning remotely through access to teachers and resources;
  • Maintain a central repository of resources and a professional learning hub for virtual learning and a resource bank for families; and
  • Make sure remote learning is high quality and effective through monitoring, reporting, training, and partnerships.

The province noted the resource centre will build on established expertise and resources, access a network of divisions across Manitoba, and leverage existing digital platforms.

Goertzen also announced three additional non-instructional days have been added to the 2020/21 school calendar to give schools a chance to focus on collaborative planning. Two of these days will need to be scheduled before Christmas and one in the second semester, but divisions can incorporate them into their calendars where they fit best.

“This will help to assist teachers in collaborative efforts to both assess in how things have been going so far, learning strategies, how they can continue to look forward and to work with the remote learning centre as well,” the minister said.

Goertzen noted that this is a difficult time in the pandemic.

“As a parent myself, but I know that I would echo this on behalf of all parents in Manitoba, we’re very appreciative of those who are working in our school system,” he said.

“You’ve had to change, and you’ve had to adapt, and sometimes you’ve had to do it more quickly than you would like, and we know that. But, the evidence is, and it’s been echoed by Dr. Roussin, is your work and your effort has made schools comparatively safe than many other places, because you’re making that effort and you’re implementing those protocols that have been put forward by public health.”