Safe schools must be a priority

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/01/2022 (265 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Happy new year everyone. I know this is a challenging time for everyone. With the Omicron COVID-19 variant spreading rapidly, we need to remain vigilant and ensure we’re following all public health measures to protect the capacity of our health-care system. 
Many of you have reached out to my office to share your stories about how easily this new variant can be contracted and how important it is to follow public health guidelines.
The Progressive Conservative government of Heather Stefanson recently delayed the return to class for school-age kids. First, the break was extended to Jan. 10 and, just last week it was announced that students would return to in-class learning on Jan. 17. As we approach the two-year mark of this pandemic, we still have a government that cannot effectively plan for safe school environments. 
Last summer, the Manitoba NDP called for improved ventilation and the hiring of more teachers and educational assistants to ensure social distancing and to support student mental health. It has been evident from the start of this pandemic that this PC government has been reactive as opposed to proactive in its planning. We knew the third and fourth waves of the pandemic were coming in Manitoba and yet, during the third wave, we had to ship Manitoba citizens out of province to receive care and we failed to ensure schools were safe for students and staff.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said in early December that we could expect to see 1,000 cases per day in Manitoba and that we needed to prepare for further restrictions. But the PC government did little to assure schools would be safe for return after the holiday break. We needed to have proper masks that were available equitably throughout the province. We needed to have proper air filtration in our classrooms. We needed to have proper supports for student mental health and plans in place for sick time. 
But, because the PCs failed to provide these resources, students have been forced back into remote learning after the holiday break and lost the manifold advantages of in-person education. The fact we’re still having these same conversations 22 months into the pandemic tells you all you need to know about this current government’s planning and priorities. Premier Stefanson is just repeating the same mistakes of her mentor, Brian Pallister.  
Please know that as the Opposition critic for K-12 education, I will continue to advocate for safe learning and working spaces for everyone in our schools. You can reach me at 204-594-2025 or email Nello.Altomare@yourmanitoba.ca

Happy new year everyone. I know this is a challenging time for everyone. With the Omicron COVID-19 variant spreading rapidly, we need to remain vigilant and ensure we’re following all public health measures to protect the capacity of our health-care system. 

Many of you have reached out to my office to share your stories about how easily this new variant can be contracted and how important it is to follow public health guidelines.

Photo by Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Classrooms in Manitoba are empty once again; this time owing to the Omicron variant of COVID-19

The Progressive Conservative government of Heather Stefanson recently delayed the return to class for school-age kids. First, the break was extended to Jan. 10 and, just last week it was announced that students would return to in-class learning on Jan. 17. As we approach the two-year mark of this pandemic, we still have a government that cannot effectively plan for safe school environments. 

Last summer, the Manitoba NDP called for improved ventilation and the hiring of more teachers and educational assistants to ensure social distancing and to support student mental health. It has been evident from the start of this pandemic that this PC government has been reactive as opposed to proactive in its planning. We knew the third and fourth waves of the pandemic were coming in Manitoba and yet, during the third wave, we had to ship Manitoba citizens out of province to receive care and we failed to ensure schools were safe for students and staff.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said in early December that we could expect to see 1,000 cases per day in Manitoba and that we needed to prepare for further restrictions. But the PC government did little to assure schools would be safe for return after the holiday break. We needed to have proper masks that were available equitably throughout the province. We needed to have proper air filtration in our classrooms. We needed to have proper supports for student mental health and plans in place for sick time. 

But, because the PCs failed to provide these resources, students have been forced back into remote learning after the holiday break and lost the manifold advantages of in-person education. The fact we’re still having these same conversations 22 months into the pandemic tells you all you need to know about this current government’s planning and priorities. Premier Stefanson is just repeating the same mistakes of her mentor, Brian Pallister.  

Please know that as the Opposition critic for K-12 education, I will continue to advocate for safe learning and working spaces for everyone in our schools. You can reach me at 204-594-2025 or email Nello.Altomare@yourmanitoba.ca

Nello Altomare

Nello Altomare
Transcona constituency report

Nello Altomare is the NDP MLA for Transcona.

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