Supplied by the Province of Manitoba
Out of an abundance of caution and based on the input of public health experts, educators and parents, the province is now mandating the use of masks for grades 4 to 12 when physical distancing is not possible, Premier Brian Pallister announced today.
“We are committed to keeping our students safe as they return to school during this challenging and unprecedented time,” said Pallister. “We have listened to the concerns of parents, teachers, administrators, staff and students, and we believe that greater clarity and confidence is necessary for the safe return to school this fall. We are taking these additional measures to ensure the health and well-being of our children, as they are our most precious resource.”
With the updated guidance, masks will be required for students in grades 4 to 12, teachers, school staff and visitors when physical distancing of two metres is not possible at school. Parents and caregivers will continue to choose whether younger students should wear a mask. Further guidance on exceptions will be available soon regarding specific mask-free time and for those not recommended to wear a mask.
“Wearing a mask offers an extra layer of protection, especially for indoor public spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer. “We all have a role to play, and we want to be sure that we take every step we can to ensure the return to school is a safe one. This will help ensure there is consistency across the school system.”
The province is developing resources to help children, along with their parents and caregivers, learn how to safely put on, wear and remove a mask.
All students in Grade 4 and up and bus drivers will also be required to wear non-medical masks on school buses. Masks should be put on before loading and taken off after off-loading.
Today, the premier and Roussin also launched the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System, a new online tool that provides clear, timely information for Manitobans about COVID-19. It helps translate public health indicators and decision-making into a simple, colour-coded system that helps everyone understand what is expected of them, what they can expect from others and the measures that may be put in place to protect everyone. It also includes specific information for schools to help families, teachers, administrators and the school community understand the risks and provincial response to the pandemic. For more information, visit www.manitoba.ca/restartMB.
Manitoba Education’sRestoring Safe Schools: Guidelines for September 2020will be revised to reflect the latest guidance on this issue and posted at www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/covid/index.html.
The EngageMB website at https://engagemb.ca/welcoming-our-students-back-restoring-safe-schools remains the best forum for parents, caregivers and students to post questions for response throughout the return to classroom learning.
The province will continue to work closely with Public Health, education stakeholders, school divisions, independent schools, parents, caregivers and students as part of its response to COVID-19 and the safe return to school.
PROVINCES NEW COLOURED WARNING SYSTEM
The Manitoba government has launched the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System, a new public health online tool that connects Manitobans with clear, timely, and more detailed and localized information about the current risk of COVID-19 and the specific measures being taken to reduce its spread, Premier Brian Pallister announced today.
“Keeping Manitobans safe is our government’s top priority in these uncertain times,” said Pallister. “Equipping Manitobans with the information they need to stay safe while restarting our economy will help ensure we are better prepared to navigate through the COVID challenges ahead. That is what our new Pandemic Response System is designed to do.”
This new online tools allows public health officials to apply and effectively communicate with Manitobans specific changes and related pandemic containment measures by localized site, region or sector as needed. This will allow targeted measures focused on containing any outbreaks, instead of applying province wide restrictions. This ensures public health remains a top priority while minimizing impacts on the economy and services for Manitobans.
The #RestartMB Pandemic Response System, the first of its kind in Canada, is based on a series of COVID-19 indicators monitored by public health officials to give Manitobans a clear and detailed picture of the situation throughout the province at all times. Those COVID-19 indicators include health system capacity, public health capacity, risk of outbreaks in vulnerable settings and risk of importation of cases.
The four colour-coded response levels are:
(red) critical – community spread of COVID-19 is not contained and/or there are significant strains on the health-care system;
(orange) restricted – community transmission of COVID-19 is occurring, public health measures are being taken to manage the negative impact on human health and/or the health system;
(yellow) caution – community transmission of COVID-19 is at low levels; and
(green) limited risk – the spread of COVID-19 is broadly contained and a vaccine and/or effective treatment is available.
The system launched with a province wide level of ‘caution’, meaning COVID-19 is still a threat across Manitoba, but community transmission levels are low. There are multiple and isolated clusters of cases which are mostly contained. For more information on the COVID-19 indicators and the four response levels, visit https://manitoba.ca/covid19/prs/system.html.
“We must learn to live with this virus, and be prepared to both respond and adapt to changes in the transmission risks COVID-19 presents,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer. “The Pandemic Response System is a key preparedness tool setting out what Manitobans must do, at each response level, to help reduce risks and minimize the spread of this virus.”
The site outlines steps Manitobans should be taking at each response level, as well as public health orders and guidance for businesses, service providers and other sectors.
At all response levels, Manitobans should continue to follow the public health fundamentals. Those include:
• always stay home when sick, even if mildly ill;
• enhanced hand hygiene;
• maintain physical distancing; and
• wear masks in public indoor settings where physical distancing is not possible.