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Łutsel K’e Dene First Nation orders school closure over Covid-19


The Łutsel K’e Dene First Nation has announced a range of measures to combat coronavirus, including an additional two-week school closure after spring break.

The First Nation said the extra two weeks would give returning travellers, including teachers, time to self-isolate before resuming work in the 300-person NWT community.

Anyone travelling into the community who has been outside the NWT in the two weeks prior is now asked to register at the First Nation office and then self-isolate for two weeks.

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All travel for council and administration – such as out-of-town meetings – is cancelled, read a notice issued by the First Nation on Friday.

The Łutsel K’e Dene School, which serves junior kindergarten to Grade 12 students, will now be closed for four weeks in total. The break was originally scheduled to run from March 7 until March 22.

Classes are now expected to resume on April 6.

Meanwhile, the territory’s education minister said senior education officials met with all NWT regional superintendents to discuss coronavirus measures on Friday afternoon.

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Speaking in the legislature, RJ Simpson said the territory’s chief public health officer would determine whether districts were advised to close their schools. No such advisory has yet been issued.

“I don’t even have the authority to shut down the schools,” Simpson told Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson, who questioned whether school closures after spring break would be introduced across the NWT.

“I can’t tell the district education authorities or the divisional education councils to shut down the schools. Legislatively, it’s just not in my toolbox,” said Simpson.

“The authorities and councils do have the authority, though, to close schools temporarily for public safety issues – so if they believe there is a public safety issue, then they have that ability.”

Jacobson said he would request a similar closure from his local district education authorities.

As of Saturday morning, Cabin Radio was not aware of any other confirmed additional NWT school closures beyond spring break.

Ollie Williams contributed reporting.

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