New mandate requires sensitive training for Manitoba school staff

Manitoba’s Ministry of Education and Early Childhood Learning has issued directions to school districts throughout the province that their staff will now be required to complete a specialized training course.

The Respect in School program, facilitated by Respect Group, teaches personnel working in schools how to recognize and prevent bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination among their students.

“We want to make sure that staff have the resources to be able to deal with situations, and the more training, professional development, and education, the better,” says Wayne Ewasko, minister of Education and Early Childhood Learning. “I want to stress to individuals that schools are safe places to send their kids.”

The Brandon School Division, meanwhile, has been well ahead of the curve, according to Superintendent Mathew Gustafson. “It’s been a requirement of our employees to complete the Respect in School certification since August 2016. That’s for all of our permanent, term staff, teachers, support staff, casual, and substitute teachers.”

“Further building the capacity and giving them the strategies and skills to be able to identify when they may see harassment, bullying, or discrimination or abuse helps provide more protection for our students,” Gustafson adds, stressing that the material in the course is crucial for staff to know.

The approximately 30,000 school division staff members required to complete this course, which also includes bystander training and how to recognize signs of grooming, will need to do so between Sept. 1, 2022, and Feb. 28, 2023.

“We all have to make sure that we’re taking part and making sure that we’re out there trying to protect our youth as much as we can,” Ewasko adds.

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