Education
Yellowknife

School boards begin sharing reopening plans

Last modified: August 11, 2020 at 3:13pm


The first of the NWT schools’ reopening plans are out as Yellowknife Catholic Schools (YCS), Yellowknife Education District No. 1 (YK1), and Commission scolaire francophone Territoires du Nord-Ouest (CSFTNO) shared how they will keep students and staff safe this academic year as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

In a four-page letter to parents and guardians, YCS Superintendent Simone Gessler thanked parents for their “incredible patience and understanding over the last six months.”

YK1 said staff, students, and families have “demonstrated remarkable flexibility and adaptability” in its letter. CSFTNO’s letter can be found here.

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With just a few weeks until schools are scheduled to reopen for the 2020-21 school year, the NWT Department of Education, Culture, and Employment (ECE) told Cabin Radio on Friday 35 reopening plans were ready and would be finalized over the next few business days, while plans for the other 14 schools were still being reviewed by the chief public health officer’s staff.

“This pandemic has not been easy for anyone involved with the education system, and we have had to overcome many hurdles,” said Gessler, assuring safety will continue to be the top priority during the transition back into the school year.

All three Yellowknife boards said they plan to start the school year on time and in-person on August 31.

YK1 said it will share school-specific plans with families by August 14, CSFTNO will share plans by August 17, and YCS has committed to sharing detailed school plans by August 20.

Following priorities previously indicated by ECE, baords will maximize in-person learning “to the degree possible.” The school boards have also committed to ensuring learning continues “regardless of circumstances,” as YCS said.

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“Parents, guardians, students and communities should be prepared for student learning to change quickly in response to evolving circumstances; for instance, if multiple teachers become ill, if there is a possible or confirmed Covid-19 outbreak at school, or if we return to the Containment Phase of Emerging Wisely as a territory and rules around physical distancing become more strict,” Gessler wrote, a statement which was echoed by YK1 and CSFTNO.

As Covid-19 has been shown to affect people of different ages in different ways, YCS and YK1 have developed different guidelines for different ages, with the least strict guidelines for young children who are typically at lower risk for contracting and spreading Covid-19.

However, there are measures being taken that will affect all grades like increased cleaning and physical distancing; no large assemblies; wearing masks on the bus and in hallways; no sharing of personal items or communal food; and more time spent learning outside when the weather permits.

Recess, lunch breaks, and drop-off and pick-up times may be staggered to increase physical distancing, while staff will have to wear face shields or remain two metres away from their students in older grades.

Staff and students will also be required to monitor daily for symptoms and stay home if they are sick.

Grades JK-7 at YCS

  • Full-time, in-person instruction
  • No physical distancing inside the classroom “bubble”
  • Students maintain physical distance of one to two metres when outside of the classroom

Grades 8-9 at YCS

  • Full-time, in-person instruction
  • Physical distancing of one metre between students, and two metres between students and staff
  • Students will remain in classroom “bubbles”
  • Students will be encouraged to keep personal items with them to limit locker access

Grades 10-11 at YCS

  • Blended learning; half day in school and half day working from home
  • Physical distancing of two metres between students
  • Staff must maintain two metres distance or wear face shields
  • Lockers will not be available for student use

Grade 12 at YCS

  • Full day, in-person instruction
  • Physical distancing of two metres between students
  • Staff must maintain two metres distance or wear face shields

Grades JK-6 at YK1 and CSFTNO

  • Full-time, in-person instruction
  • No physical distancing inside the classroom “bubble”, but students must maintain a physical distance of one to two metres outside of the classroom
  • Changes to classrooms to maximize safety, such as the removal of materials that cannot be easily cleaned (toys, sand or water tables) and modifications to gathering circles

Grades 7-9 at YK1 and CSFTNO

  • Full-time, in-person instruction (as much as possible at CSFTNO schools)
  • Physical distancing of one metre between students and two metres between staff
  • Students will be encouraged to keep personal items with them to limit locker access
  • No communal food or student spares, and staggering of breaks, exits and entry times

Grades 10-12 at YK1 and CSFTNO

  • Full-time, in-person instruction as much as possible
  • Physical distancing of two metres between students and staff
  • Students will be encouraged to keep personal items with them to limit locker access
  • No communal food or student spares, and staggering of breaks, exits and entry times

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