Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Schools ordered to post absence level

  • Print

Education Minister Peter Bjornson has ordered school divisions to begin immediately posting online the level of absence for each school on a daily basis -- either a message of no unusual absenteeism, or higher than usual absenteeism.

Bjornson's letter sent out Tuesday does not define unusual absenteeism, nor does it make any reference to the H1N1 flu.

Bjornson announced two weeks ago that divisions would have to provide daily updates of absenteeism on their websites, but only put it in writing Tuesday.

So far in the city, only Pembina Trails School Division had been posting a daily update of school-by-school absences 10 per cent above the seasonal norms. And to date, none has had that many students absent.

That 10-per-cent-above-usual figure was previously to have triggered schools alerting their public health nurse, but Bjornson's letter emphasizes that schools must post publicly anything above normal absences.

School divisions had been slow to respond until they got orders in writing from Bjornson, and what had been posted so far varied widely.

Interlake School Division listed all its schools and said it will indicate if any exceed 10 per cent absenteeism.

Seven Oaks School Division has a flu pandemic link on its home page, which says Seven Oaks will go public if a school exceeds seasonal norms in absences three consecutive days.

Louis Riel division superintendent Terry Borys has a note on the division's home page -- titled "Do you have ConFLUsion?" -- notifying parents that LRSD won't be posting anything until Bjornson tells educators in writing what he wants them to do.

But meanwhile, says Borys, the division has not had any confirmed cases of H1N1.

Superintendents met Sept. 23 with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, which reiterated earlier messages from the province that health authorities will handle the release of all flu information -- which would not include identifying an individual school in any way.

As Borys wrote on Louis Riel's website: "We understood that the Province (and in particular Manitoba Health) would communicate when influenza is circulating in public schools. Indeed, we were told that when we start to get cases of H1N1, that we should all avoid providing detailed information about specific student numbers or schools and give the main message that influenza has arrived, and what that means to all schools."

But when the Free Press reported last month that school divisions would not be publicly identifying any unusual health problems at individual schools in the face of a possible flu pandemic, there was strong reader reaction demanding information.

And when Premier Gary Doer later that day went on CJOB radio and said that, as a parent, he'd want to know if there was flu in his child's school, Bjornson announced a change in policy within a few hours.

Winnipeg, St. James-Assiniboia, River East Transcona and Seine River have been posting only the Manitoba Health messages and links that were issued months ago. Just outside the city, Sunrise and Lord Selkirk have done the same.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

 

What minister says

WHAT Education Minister Peter Bjornson is telling school divisions to publish each day on their websites:

"....post one of the following messages for each school in the division, on their division website as soon as possible, depending on the circumstances that day:

No unusual absenteeism reported.

OR

Higher than usual absenteeism reported

AS OF (date/time)"

 

Bjornson said the following should also be posted:

"When a report of unusual absenteeism is received, the school contacts public health for expert advice and direction. Public health will tell the school if any changes need to be made to reduce the spread of infection, and the school will inform parents of these recommended changes.

"It is important to note that absenteeism reports may not be because of the flu. Absenteeism may be related to other medical or non-medical reasons.

For more information on how to reduce your risk of H1N1 flu, visit www.manitoba.ca/flu."

 

Bjornson also told school divisions that while he expects them to let public health know the reasons for absences, "There is no requirement to include specific information on the website about the percentage of students away, number of students away, reasons for absenteeism, or other attendance data."

 

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 14, 2009 A6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your top TV picks for this weekend - Dec. 5-7

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings jostle for position to take a drink from a puddle in Brookside Cemetery Thursday morning- Day 23– June 14, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A golfer looks for his ball in a water trap at John Blumberg Golf Course Friday afternoon as geese and goslings run for safety- See Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge- Day 24– June 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will you watch The Interview?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google