Auditor General’s Report Reveals Manitoba’s Education System Was Unprepared For Pandemic

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Manitoba’s education system was unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic and has yet to begin recovery efforts, the province’s auditor general found.

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Despite the shortcomings, Manitoba Auditor General Tyson Shtykalo said the Department of Education launched a rapid response to the pandemic.

Shtykalo’s report released on Thursday found there was no coordinated emergency response plan for K-12, meaning the education department failed to consider risks to the school system and was unprepared for remote learning.

“We expected that plans would be in place to ensure that a consistent level of high quality education would be available to all students in the province in the event of an emergency – such as a pandemic,” Shtykalo said in a statement. Press release.

“However, we found that the department had worked through many details on the fly.”

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said every department is required by law to have an emergency plan in place.

“There was a complete lack of pandemic preparedness, which should come as no surprise,” he told reporters on Thursday, adding that a pandemic response plan should have been on the radar of the education department.

The education department has also not launched any post-pandemic recovery efforts, according to the report. Shtykalo’s report says the education department needs to develop plans to address the impact of the pandemic on students’ learning and mental health, as well as to address lack of internet access or technology.

“Given that the province was just recovering from the second wave in early 2021 (when the review concluded), the vaccination campaign was just beginning, and the severity of the third wave in the spring of 2021, the government’s focus was not on pandemic recovery once the review was completed,” Education and Early Learning Minister Wayne Ewasko said in a statement.

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NDP Education Critic Nello Altomare (Transcona) said the report’s findings are not surprising given the lack of funding PCs have provided for public education.

The report did not focus on decisions made by other departments, schools or individual divisions as well as public health officials.

Ewasko said since the review ended, the province has invested in ventilation projects, personal protective equipment and additional funding for schools to address the impacts on learning, mental health and development. wellness and distance learning.

The province says nearly $250 million has been donated to support schools during the pandemic. In 2021-2022, $63 million was paid to schools.

“Our government will continue to move forward with its plans to respond to the findings and recommendations received from this audit, as well as post-pandemic planning,” Ewasko said.

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