The province is postponing the release of the highly anticipated review of the public education system as government officials place priority on Manitoba’s COVID-19 response.
“There are many excellent recommendations in the K-12 commission report but even excellent recommendations are difficult to implement in uncertain times,” Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen wrote in a tweet Wednesday.
“That is why we will not be implementing significant changes recommended in the report until at least summer of 2021.”
Goertzen’s office received the report last month. It was expected to be made public before the end of March.
It’s unclear how long the province is putting the results on hold.
School staff, students and families have been awaiting the report — which the province has said will transform Manitoba’s school system — since it was first announced in January 2019. It was then Goertzen appointed a nine-member commission to undertake a comprehensive look at education in Manitoba.
Former Progressive Conservative education minister Clayton Manness was appointed to co-chair the team and education adviser Avis Glaze was named lead consultant.
Glaze recently authored a controversial report for the Nova Scotia government in which she recommended sweeping changes to school board governance structures.
In anticipation of Manitoba’s review, educators and trustees have expressed concern about what the results will mean for their futures.
Manitoba Teachers’ Society president James Bedford said stress levels have increased as educators scramble to plan alternative lessons because of the impending school closures next week.
Bedford, who represents 16,000 public-school teachers, said he was relieved to hear the latest news from the minister during a phone call Wednesday morning.
“It’s not the right time to be dealing with changes to Manitoba’s public education system when we’re in the midst of a health crisis in the province, and one that directly impacts educators. It directly impacts everybody in the province,” he said.
The education minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
maggie.macintosh@freepress.mb.ca