North

Back to school for N.W.T. students in September may vary by school, community

The N.W.T. government says it's still planning if and how students will go back to classrooms in the fall.

Educators have committed to starting the school year on time, says government

A playground in Colville Lake, N.W.T., photographed in January. The N.W.T. government says parties are 'actively' working on co-ordinating plans for the upcoming fall school year, following the safety criteria given by the territory's chief public health officer. (John Last/CBC)

The N.W.T. government says it's still planning if and how students will return to school this September, but says educators have committed to starting the school year on time.

Education leaders across the territory virtually met with Education Minister R.J. Simpson and the NWT Teachers' Assocation on Wednesday, according to a government news release sent Thursday. They discussed plans for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

The N.W.T. government says parties are "actively" working on co-ordinating plans for the fall, following the safety criteria given by the territory's chief public health officer.

Schools across the territory shut their doors months ago due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The territory's chief public health officer allowed schools to reopen as part of Phase 1 of its reopening plan, which began in mid-May. In a news release at the time, education leaders said they decided to keep schools closed.

Different in each school, community

"How education is delivered will be different for each school and community, based on factors such as school size and layout, access to technology, and the number and ages of students and staff," states the news release.

Each school will likely make its own adjustments to transportation, food programs and scheduling, according to the release.

The statement goes on to say that education leaders in the N.W.T. agreed to follow these priorities for the upcoming school year:

  • Maintain health and safety of its students, staff and communities.
  • Start the school year on time.
  • Maximize in-person learning.
  • Ensure equity across all regions.
  • Maintain financial support to schools.

The news release states that the education bodies will take a "flexible approach" in their planning in case a second wave of COVID-19 happens in the fall.

Schools are working on risk assessment plans for reopening, and will submit them to the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer this month, says the government.

It says more details on the upcoming school year will come after these risk assessments are approved.

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