Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley at the Government of Yukon COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse, Yukon on June 9. The government is now recommending masks for students age 10 and older when in situations that social distancing isn’t possible. (Photo by Alistair Maitland Photography)

Yukon government recommends wearing masks and preparing for sick days as kids return to school

The press conference also provided an update on the most recent COVID-19 case

The Yukon government is warning that Aug. 20 won’t be the start of a normal school year.

In addition to social distancing and previously announced changes to daily schedules, sniffles could be cause for alarm, students will have assigned seating on buses and children are being asked to wear masks in situations where physical distancing is difficult.

Additional details for the school year were announced at a press conference on Aug. 12.

“As we return to face to face learning, we are putting the health and safety of students and staff and our communities first. These are unprecedented times and we know that school this year will be different,” education minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said.

Students and teachers will return to school on Aug. 20. The original start date was pushed back by one day to allow for teacher training. Each school has submitted an individual COVID-19 Operational Plan.

“We’ve discussed and researched and debated everything from whether children should be able to play with blocks, as to whether windows in classrooms should be open, from use of gymnasiums and libraries, to how far away from each other students should be while waiting for the bus,” said Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley.

“This, of course, has been a tremendous amount of work but will, I believe, help us to achieve our goal, and that is to get kids back into schools. I think that’s all what we want. We can all agree that the safest place for children to be is back in the schools,” he said.

The government is now recommending that children age 10 and older wear non-medical masks “in situations where physical distancing is not possible.”

Hanley said the change in recommendation was due to emerging evidence that older children have similar transmission rates to adults. The Department of Education will supply disposable masks.

Hanley said he is still not in favour of making masks mandatory and cautioned that they are a supplement to safe distancing and sanitation.

There will also be a lower threshold this year for keeping kids at home.

“I’ve seen many emails, particularly with school beginning, that kids will be missing school and parents perhaps missing work as a result of one kid with a sniffle. That is one of the realities we’re going to have to face,” Hanley said.

Testing and contact-tracing have been kicked into high gear after a person tested positive for COVID-19 last week in Whitehorse. Hanley said the process of identifying and contacting potential exposures continues.

He cautioned people not to react with hostility towards Dawson City residents or those who have visited the community.

“While contract tracing continues, we’re talking about a very small number of individuals who had COVID infection while in Dawson City. We are not seeing community spread. There is no reason to target Dawson City as a place of risk,” he said.

Since July 31 public health has collected 425 samples for testing and received 264 results.

Hanley thanked all the people who have come forward for testing with symptoms. He encouraged all people who feel sick to stay home, even if they suspect a common cold.

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

CoronavirusYukon Department of Education

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

Just Posted

Yukon NDP leader Kate White, surrounded by socially distanced candidates, announces her platform in Whitehorse on March 29. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Kate White and the Yukon NDP Platform

A detailed look at the NDP platform and Kate White’s leadership campaign this election

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Sandy Silver announces the territorial election in Whitehorse. Silver is seeking a second term as premier and third term as Klondike MLA. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Getting to know Sandy Silver and the Yukon Liberal platform

Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver is vying for a second term as… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley issued a public exposure warning on April 9. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
COVID-19 exposure notice issued for Air Canada flight

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley issued a… 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

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media in Whitehorse on October 30, 2020. Hanley is now encouraging Yukon to continue following health regulations, noting it could still be some time before changes to restrictions are made. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
No active COVID cases in Yukon

Hanley highlights concerns over variants, encourages vaccinations

Most Read