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Carmel Haub worries her grandson will fall further behind on his education after the province mandated two weeks of remote learning for students in grades 7 to 12 after the holiday break.

"The kids need school. I think they really do because my grandson is in Grade 9 and he missed half of Grade 8 because of the virus. Now, he only goes to school two days a week and does the rest remotely. It’s really hard on him," said Haub while waiting to pick up her nine-year-old grandson, Hayden Klassen, from Sun Valley School on Wednesday.

The remote learning will run from Jan. 4 till Jan. 15. It will be optional for children in kindergarten to grade 6.

Manitoba Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen made the announcement Wednesday.

Haub said Hayden will likely go to class, but her 14-year-old grandson, Branden, who attends River East Collegiate, will be at home for two weeks. He has told her it’s tough to keep up with schoolwork as he studies remotely part time.

"They miss their friends. And to stay at home for complete, total, virtual learning, I don’t think that’s healthy for the kids," said Haub.

Haub said she thinks there will be a lot of child-care issues with the mandated remote learning, because not every family has a grandparent who can stay with children while they learn virtually.

"My husband is working from home, so he’s home full time. I have my own side business where I have to make up my own hours but with five kids at home it doesn’t happen. So, I wouldn’t be able to work at all," said Melissa Kernaghan, as she picked up her children up from Sun Valley School.

"I would have to put that aside, care for them and then make sure they’re doing their online learning. With so many children, I have to come up with different computers and schedule their timing and things like that. It becomes a bit challenging to get each of them on a computer to do the remote learning and to do their homework."

Kernaghan said a mandatory remote learning period would add stress to her family. She plans to send her three children, who attend Sun Valley School, to class for as long as she can.

"Overall, they would be OK with it," she said. "They go with the flow, but of course, they would be sad they can't come to school, which is their routine, their familiarity, their friends. They have a great relationship with the teachers here, so of course they would be sad."

One mother said her two elementary school-aged children will continue to go to school, but she doesn’t think temporary remote learning for her older daughters, who are in grades 7 and 10, is such a bad thing.

"The two weeks is a good chance to minimize COVID, that’s the way we’re going to fight it. We’re going to go through it together," said Yodit Newet.

kellen.taniguchi@freepress.mb.ca