WINNIPEG - Child care centres and the parents in Winnipeg and Brandon who depend on them are working against the clock today as they prepare for a mass migration of students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 to virtual learning tomorrow.
The Manitoba Government has created an online search portal to help parents find child care spots in their area, and Chief Provincial Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin says child care centres may stay open as students in those cities move to remote classes. Not included in the move are children of essential workers, as well as children who are considered high-risk. Those students may continue to attend in-person classes.
The province says the first priority for critical service worker child care access is for front line staff, including health care workers, teachers, firefighters, and police officers. Second to be prioritized are other essential workers who include grocery store staff, supply chain workers such as truck drivers, and those in the province’s natural resources industries.
Premier Brian Pallister says the province has created hundreds of childcare spaces over the past year, and is encouraging parents to apply for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit if they haven’t already done so as one resource to help with the transition.
The Manitoba Child Care Association meanwhile is looking for several areas of clarification, saying parents and staff are confused about who is allowed to attend daycare and who isn’t. The association says it was expected that children of essential workers would be allowed to receive child care - but some staff feel they’re lacking guidance, and don’t know exactly what they’re supposed to do during the switch.
The closure of in-person learning will be in place until May 30.