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 Yukon.ca 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 haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Dawson the dog sits next to the Chariot Patrick Jackson has loaded and rigged up to walk the Dempster Highway from where it begins, off the North Klondike Highway, to the Arctic Circle. (Submitted)
Walking the Dempster

Patrick Jackson gets set for 405-kilometre journey

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
BREAKING: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read