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NWT school reopening plan: no singing, masks for buses and some areas

Joseph Burr Tyrrell Elementary School in Fort Smith. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

The NWT government says masks will remain mandatory on buses and in some building areas when school returns this fall, while singing and drama classes won’t happen.

Publishing its 2021-22 school reopening guidelines on Wednesday, the territory said health and safety during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic remained “the highest priority” but the guidelines could evolve over time.

There will be no large gatherings like assemblies at schools and no high-contact indoor activities, like wrestling or dancing with partners, a news release on Wednesday stated. Schools are urged to hold physical education classes outdoors if possible.

“Wearing non-medical masks or face coverings will be mandatory on school buses and within the school building outside of the classroom,” the territorial government said. “Masks will not be required in classrooms.”



Physical distancing in classrooms for students in grades 7 to 12 will no longer be required, but distancing for junior kindergarten to Grade 6 is recommended. Daily symptom screening and heightened cleaning regimes in schools will stay.

Students and staff will not be permitted to attend school if they have symptoms of Covid-19. Each school will have a dedicated isolation room where a student can isolate if they begin to show symptoms while at school.

Drama productions, choirs, and band programs all remain on hold, and wind instruments can’t be used in schools.

High school programming for grades 10-12 and graduation requirements will return to normal, Alberta Achievement Tests for grades 6 and 9 and diploma exams will resume, and all other student assessments and evaluations “will return to pre-Covid-19 conditions.”



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No precise timeline has been given for the easing of remaining restrictions in schools.

“The upcoming 2021-22 school year will see an easing of restrictions as vaccine rates continue to climb in the NWT,” the territorial government said on Wednesday.

“As this is still an evolving situation, guidelines may change over the course of the school year.

“Schools have built flexibility into their planning and educational staff are prepared to adapt models of learning to the changing Covid-19 situation.”