As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Yukon, at least two schools went to remote learning this week.

Most students at Porter Creek Secondary School went online for the week after 18 teachers were absent, half which were COVID-19-related. Nicole Morgan, deputy minister of education, says the school found five substitutes but ultimately couldn’t keep the doors open

The Department of Education said Nelnah Bessie John School in Beaver Creek also began remote learning, as both teachers were unable to be in the classroom.

Morgan said Wednesday that every school faces the prospect of remote learning.

“We will only know when that happens by following where the case counts are going,” Morgan said. “That’s in particular in communities, where as the case count rises in the community, we will of course expect that we will see a similar pattern in the school setting.”

Robert Service School in Dawson City is also asking to delay in-person classes.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, the school said it made the request because of concerns with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreading over the holidays.

Morgan said the department is reviewing that request as they check in with schools this week.

“What we know we can expect is that likely, things are not going to be better a week from now. There are likely to be more cases. And so we want to continue to make sure our schools are supported and are using the tools that we have in place.”

Morgan said there are two factors into the decision. One is the level of risk to public health. The other is whether staff shortages make it hard to keep the school open. She added that the school is ready to support students who choose to learn from home.

Update coming today on schools and COVID-19

During a news conference Wednesday, Premier Sandy Silver and Dr. Catherine Elliott, the territory’s acting chief medical officer of health, said schools are set to remain open.

“It is our priority to keep students in the classroom. Schools should be the last thing to close down in a pandemic,” Silver said. 

He added that when the state of emergency was declared last November, the territory strengthened public health measures in schools, including requiring students to wear masks at all times when inside schools.”

Officials are set to give a technical briefing on schools and COVID-19 on Friday morning.

However, some Yukoners seemed hesitant to send their child back to school in-person.

In Dawson City, only 42 of around 215 students attended school on Tuesday (according to the Yukon government — the school’s Facebook page says it had 36 students in attendance with nine staff away, “most because of the ‘stoplight’ measures”).

Silver pointed to the frigid weather as one possible reason for the low attendance.

A post from Robert Service School said teachers this week would be “reviewing previously covered learning or extended learning opportunities.”

“The remainder of the week will not involve coverage of new material,” the post read. “High school students are starting revision of the first semester’s work in anticipation of the upcoming examinations next week.”

(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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