Education Minister Tracy McPhee announces that all face-to-face learning will be suspended for Yukon students for the remainder of the school year during a press conference in Whitehorse on April 7. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

UPDATED: Face-to-face classes for students suspended in the Yukon

School staff have been working on alternative learning opportunities

Education Minister Tracy McPhee announced on April 7 that all face-to-face learning will be suspended for Yukon students for the remainder of the school year.

Yukon schools will remain closed to students, with students continuing their studies through alternative means.

The order to suspend in-person classes was made in consultation with the territory’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Brendan Hanley.

The order will come into effect on April 16 and last until the end of the 2019-2020 school year this June.

Students will be assigned work to complete at home — the amount of work being determined by grade level — and students slated to graduate this spring are still able to do so.

McPhee said this was not a decision that was made lightly.

“For this school year, you will not have the opportunity to attend school in the way that you normally would,” McPhee said. “Your school work is going to look different as we ask you to change how you learn, how you connect with your friends and how you achieve your goals. … We ask you (students) to be open minded to new ways of connecting with your teachers and participating in your favourite classes and those not-so-favourite classes as well.”

McPhee said teachers, educational assistants and other school staff have been working to develop alternative learning opportunities since the originally scheduled end of the March break. Yukon education staff have been working with their counterparts in British Columbia, to provide common standards.

Staff will determine what is essential learning for students during the remainder of the school year. Learning plans are being developed for all Yukon schools. Parents are to be notified of these plans. She said this could include the use of online school resources or more traditional ones. Each school’s plan may look unique.

She said many families have already heard from principals about the learning plans, and all parents will be informed before April 15. Students will be getting a final report card, and those set to graduate are still on track to.

“Our Yukon educators will ensure that students will complete the essential learning requirement and move on to the next grade level or graduate,” McPhee said.

Deputy Minister of Education Nicole Morgan explained educators will be speaking with families to see what communication method works best in their circumstance. She said education communications could be over the phone, by email, online or using paper-based materials. She said this flexibility is needed because families in rural settings may not have the same access to Internet or technology as those in Whitehorse.

Morgan said educational assistants will still be on the job to help students. There will also be other help like behaviour therapy being offered at a distance.

Contact Gord Fortin at gord.fortin@yukon-news.com

CoronavirusYukon Department of Education

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