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Thousands of Manitoba students are set to begin learning remotely today, however, the move is only temporary.

This measure comes after the Manitoba government mandated that following winter break, students from Grades 7 to 12 would learn remotely for a period of two weeks. Parents with kids in Kindergarten to Grade 6 have the choice of sending their kids back to in-person learning or having them learn from home. 

“These decisions, we know, have various impacts. Moving to remote learning for two weeks for the Grade 7 to 12, in particular, we know can have an impact on families and they’re not made lightly, but they are made in consultation with public health,” Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said at the beginning of December when the remote learning period was first announced.

“We believe, and still believe, that the best place for students to learn is in the classroom where it is safe to do so.”

Manitoba is taking this measure in the hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19, since people may have increased their number of close contacts over the holidays.

According to the province, evidence shows that older students have a higher incidence of contracting the disease, a larger number of close contacts, and as a result, are more likely to transmit COVID-19 to others.

“We are reducing the risk that may be posed as a result of a change in students’ close contacts during the winter break,” Goertzen said.

The province expects about half the student population will stay home during this remote learning period. 

- With files from CTV’s Stephanie Tsicos and Josh Crabb.