Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a Yukon government press conference on June 9 in Whitehorse. (Alistair Maitland Photography)

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a Yukon government press conference on June 9 in Whitehorse. (Alistair Maitland Photography)

MAD theatre program returns to Wood Street space

Hanley also cautioned travellers to observe new B.C. restrictions

High school students in the Music, Arts and Drama (MAD) experiential learning program will be returned to their space in the Wood Street School.

Earlier this year the program was moved to Porter Creek Secondary School in order to allow room for other classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. A petition, with over 400 signatures, was created to protest the move.

“The MAD program can move back to the black box theatre at the Wood Street Centre as soon as possible and for the remainder of the school year,” said Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee at a COVID-19 update on Nov. 10.

The theatre space at Wood Street is a custom-designed facility — with a 150 seat black box theatre with state of the art sound and light, space for costume and set design, storage and an isolated environment that allows the program to become a tight-knit community, according to the students.

The government has also obtained three new school buses, which are currently being inspected and are expected to be on the road soon.

McPhee said despite calls from some parents and students, the department has determined that returning all high school students to full-time classes won’t be possible for the remainder of the school year. McPhee emphasized that it is a question of space rather than funding.

“This is simply not feasible,” McPhee said, acknowledging that some students are struggling and additional supports have been made available.

For other Whitehorse students, Yukon’s chief medical officer Dr. Brendan Hanley said protocols in schools are changing.

Physical distancing of only one metre will be required, rather than the previous two metres, and masks will now be mandatory in shared spaces that include cafeterias, libraries and corridors, among other common spaces shared in school.

“The priority is still providing the students and teachers with the resources they need to succeed,” Hanley said.

Hanley also noted that public health advice has recently changed in British Columbia. While the travel bubble remains operational, he said Yukoners should exercise caution, particularly in metro Vancouver.

“For those traveling you must be aware and ready to follow the new and the newly implemented guidelines,” Hanley said.

“Although we are in a bubble with B.C., we have to recognize that the risk of exposure to COVID while traveling to the lower mainland is higher than it was during the summer months. While the interior and the island remain relatively unaffected, traveling to the Vancouver area will require extra caution,” Hanley said.

He emphasized that the new rules may change travel plans, including attendance at weddings and funerals. Travellers – including those meeting family for Christmas within the bubble – should practise the safe six and consider voluntary quarantines when possible.

A 14-day quarantine is still required for those travelling outside the Yukon travel bubble.

Hanley encouraged Yukoners to ask if this holiday season is the right time for travel, or whether visits can be put off to spring or summer.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

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