Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media on Oct. 30. As the territory emerges with a slowdown from the recent rapid cases of COVID-19, Hanley urged holiday caution during a weekly update. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media on Oct. 30. As the territory emerges with a slowdown from the recent rapid cases of COVID-19, Hanley urged holiday caution during a weekly update. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Three new school buses join fleet in 2021 with new rules for masks

As new cases slow, Hanley urges caution over holidays

Three new school buses will be introduced in the new year.

On Jan. 4 the new vehicles, plus a review of the current system, will allow for the school system to accommodate around 350 students.

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee made the announcement alongside the Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, on Dec. 17.

The Liberals have faced criticism in the house around the bussing issue, after parents complained that they were no longer eligible during the COVID-19 year because of less space on buses.

On Dec. 17 McPhee once again emphasized that, since the school year began, all students technically eligible for a bus, based on distance, were accommodated from the beginning.

Families will be notified by email with their bus number by Dec. 23 if they are being accommodated with the changes or if there are any changes to their existing bus number. All families are being encouraged to visit to check bus schedules and routes.

Hanley said the current rules and safety guidelines were re-examined to see if more students could be accommodated.

This has resulted in new rules – including that all students age five and older wear a non-medical mask while on board. The previous guidelines suggested masks for age 10 and older.

“We’ve ensured that neither the students nor the drivers safety is compromised,” Hanley said, adding that monitoring for symptoms remains crucial.

Cases slow down, but holiday caution urged

As the territory emerges with a slowdown from the recent rapid cases of COVID-19, Hanley urged holiday caution during a weekly update.

“As one community, we have stayed strong, we have persevered and we can see a finish line in sight. And without your determination and diligence, we could be in a very different situation than we find ourselves in now,” said Hanley, thanking Yukoners for their patience.

Hanley addressed the anxiety of the recent increase in cases after a relatively quiet summer, sharing some detailed statistics about the Yukon’s overall cases.

After peaking at 59 total cases and a situation on Nov. 17 where the territory had 24 active cases at one time, almost everyone has now recovered from that initial wave.

The territory has only had one new case in the past week.

Most of the cases have affected younger adults in the 20 to 39 age group, mirroring the majority of Canadian cases. The top symptoms of COVID-19 in the territory have been a cough, runny nose, headache and fever.

Hanley said the territory will continue to release detailed information now that we have enough cases to analyze some initial data.

He said the patterns — a majority of cases spread within the territory — illustrate how important bubbles and caution remain, even as the holidays approach.

Hanley emphasized “bubble fidelity” over the holidays, and said the next few weeks are not the time to start expanding or changing the recommended social bubble of 10 to 15 people, despite the temptation of holiday gatherings.

“It travels from one person to another when people are living together, working together or congregating in the same setting, especially if people are not practicing the Safe Six or masking,” he said.

“The tighter your bubble, the less chance for COVID to spread,” he said.

Asked about how the territory will phase out public health measures as the vaccine is introduced, Hanley said there are still many unknowns that will play out in the next few months.

Addressing the legislature later in the afternoon, he also cautioned that changes won’t be immediate.

“I think that the next few months are going to be both exciting and challenging. I think that the challenge will be to — as I was saying in my media update — maintain our vigilance with regard to COVID risk while we await that relief of the vaccine — but that the relief is not an instant relief. It is a relief that is going to potentially take months,” he said.

Hanley said even if the entire territory is vaccinated, public health measures will remain in place in order to limit the risk of importing the disease from the rest of Canada.

Contact Haley Ritchie at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Yukon survey querying transportation between communities has already seen hundreds of participants and is the latest review highlighting the territory’s gap in accessibility. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Multiple reports, survey decry lack of transportation between Yukon communities

A Community Travel survey is the latest in a slew of initiatives pointing to poor accessibility

Mobile vaccine team Team Balto practises vaccine clinic set-up and teardown at Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Mobile vaccine teams are heading out this week to the communities in order to begin Moderna vaccinations. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mobile vaccine teams begin community vaccinations

“It’s an all-of-government approach”

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on Jan. 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, they are asking city council for a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Developer asks for zoning change

Would reduce the number of required parking spaces

The Liard First Nation is preparing to enter negotiations for self-governance with the territorial and federal governments. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
Liard First Nation preparing to enter self-governance negotiations with Yukon, federal governments

Chief Stephen Charlie seeking an agreement separate from “dead end” UFA


Wyatt’s World for Jan. 20, 2021

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

Most Read