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Coronavirus
Education

YK1 petitioned to scrap exams for students over Omicron


Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling on Yellowknife’s YK1 school district to cancel exams for students in the wake of disruption related to Covid-19.

School reopening was delayed by a week this month as the NWT reported hundreds of new Covid-19 cases. On Thursday, the territory said Yellowknife schools should switch to remote learning from January 10 onward.

Schools had already closed classrooms and used remote learning for much of the fall as a Delta-variant outbreak swept through the NWT.

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Diploma exams scheduled for January have already been cancelled, but a petition with more than 300 signatures as of Friday morning calls for the scrapping of exams like Alberta Achievement Tests.

“Students have missed another week of learning – most courses for grades 9-12 are not yet complete. Exams are still going ahead as usual, with them being worth 25-30 percent of a final grade for grades 9-11,” the petition states.

“In addition to this, students have already spent a month and a half doing virtual learning due to a territorial outbreak.

“We believe that the district should use the time that would be exam session to properly finish all course material and revision as well as prioritizing students’ and teachers’ mental health during this stressful time, just as Alberta’s education system is cancelling provincial achievement tests for grade nines and diploma exams for students taking 30-level courses.”

Whether the petition was created by a student or parent is not clear. The petition’s author is listed only as “Jane Doe,” a common placeholder name used when someone seeks to remain anonymous.

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By email to Cabin Radio, YK1 student Logan Doll – who identified himself as École William McDonald Middle School’s student president – said students had missed out on months of in-person education.

“Personally, I believe that YK1 should take a bigger step and remove all grades for all of its students,” Doll wrote.

“The first term of the 2021-22 school year didn’t have grades because of the online work period. Add in the Omicron wave and the isolation period for students who got Covid-19, and that’s two to three months without regular school.”

YK1, which is now coordinating a move back to remote learning on the recommendation of Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

However, in a Wednesday statement on its website related to January diploma exams, the district wrote: “Decisions around April and June diploma exams and the Alberta Achievement Tests will be made at a later date.”

In all likelihood, any decision to cancel more student examinations would be taken with – or could come from – the territorial government’s education officials.

Jennifer Rae, the NWT government’s acting director of curriculum development and student assessment, told the CBC the territory still has time to decide what to do with the likes of Alberta Achievement Tests.

“Diploma exams are the most pressing. They’re here now,” Rae told the broadcaster this week.

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