The Minister of Education says all school divisions in Manitoba will be required to take a PD day during the 2020 provincial election.
According to Kelvin Goertzen, the recommendation to move an existing PD day onto elections day was made in order to eliminate a safety concern.
“During elections day, if the school is being used as a polling place, there are people coming in and out of it,” explains Goertzen, “and it can be a challenge to ensure that the people in the school are the right people to be in the school.”
With so much effort placed on keeping intruders out of schools every other day of the year, Goertzen notes that having open polling stations while class was in session seemed counterintuitive.
“There simply isn’t any other day where the doors of the school are flung open to welcome anybody,” he stresses.
Despite this reasoning, Goertzen says some schools still feel it would be beneficial to remain open during the polls so that students may gain first-hand experience of the democratic process.
Goertzen responds to this argument: “Elections Manitoba has been pretty aggressive in finding ways young people can be engaged in the elections process.” He indicates that underage students are given every opportunity to see how the system functions, and even volunteer if they so choose. So far, Goertzen says the majority of divisions have responded positively to this decision. However, whether or not a division is in full agreement, Goertzen says the government has moved forward with this: taking a PD day during the 2020 provincial elections will be required.