The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)

The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)

Plans for full-time in-class learning detailed

New guidelines established

With Grade 10 to 12 students from F.H. Collins, Vanier Catholic and Porter Creek secondary schools slated to return to full-time classes as of April 19, the Yukon government has released details on what students and staff can expect.

High school students in Whitehorse have been attending half-day classes since the beginning of the school year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

It was announced March 31 they would return to full-day classes April 19 with the government later releasing more details on the plan.

“While we have seen some students succeed on the half-day, in-class schedule, we continue to hear from parents/guardians who are worried about the impact this schedule is having on their child’s learning,” Nicole Morgan, the territory’s deputy minister of education, said in a statement.

“Returning students to full-time in-person classes for the remainder of the school year provides students with greater access to teacher support and a chance to get back to their normal school routines before next school year. It also supports our graduating students to finish their Grade 12 year with their friends and teachers as they would in a regular school year.”

Under the plans, there would be two days of planning on April 15 and 16 set aside for school staff to adjust course plans for the remainder of the year. Those in Grades 10 to 12 will not attend classes those days, but are expected to “be learning from home on work assigned by their teachers.”

Updated health and safety guidelines have also been established which include keeping cohorts together and avoiding mixing with other groups as much as possible through the school day; minimizing face-to-face interactions; avoiding physical contact and maximizing physical distancing wherever possible; limiting congregating of students and staff during transitions between classes and in school common areas and using non-medical masks in common areas.

Education staff are working with school principals and school councils to adjust operations at each high school to meet the guidelines.

Once those plans are finalized they will be posted on each school’s website.

Any changes to operations or programming will be shared prior to the return of full-day classes.

“Although school children and teachers have adapted and made the most out of a difficult year, we know students do better overall in a face-to-face learning environment. I feel confident that with our current processes and ongoing immunization we can have our kids return to full-time class safely,” Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Brendan Hanley said. “As always, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 activity within the territory, and should we face a surge of COVID-19 cases we will have contingencies in place to ensure continued learning.”

Grade 8 students from F.H. Collins who have been going to school at the Wood Street Centre since September due to COVID will continue to attend the downtown school until the end of the year.

With the exception of the Grade 10 to 12 students attending Whitehorse’s three main high schools, all other students in the territory have been back to full-time classes since September following the abrupt end of in-school learning in March 2020 due to the global pandemic.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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