Schools in Yellowknife, Dettah, Ndilǫ and Behchokǫ̀ can reopen Monday, passport program to start Friday

Premier Caroline Cochrane confirmed during a news conference Wednesday that schools in Yellowknife, Dettah, Ndilǫ and Behchokǫ̀ can reopen starting Monday, Oct. 25, and that the vaccine passport program will begin Friday.

Schools were closed in mid-September

The Mildred Hall School in Yellowknife. Schools in Yellowknife, Dettah, Ndilǫ and Behchokǫ̀ can re-open Monday, Oct. 25. (Graham Shishkov/CBC)

Schools in Yellowknife, Dettah, Ndilǫ and in Behchokǫ̀ that have been closed since mid-September can reopen again on Monday, Oct. 25. 

Premier Caroline Cochrane made the announcement at a news conference Wednesday.

The N.W.T. government announced Tuesday that it would launch a voluntary at-home screening program in an effort to protect students aged five to 11.

The program will be available in 12 schools in Yellowknife, Hay River, Behchokǫ̀, Inuvik, Ndilǫ and Dettah.

Cochrane also said the territory will be moving forward with its vaccine passport program across the territory.

Businesses need to apply for new exemptions

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola confirmed she will lift the the public health orders currently in place for Yellowknife, Dettah, Ndilǫ, and Behchokǫ̀, and replace them with a territory-wide gathering order, effective this Friday at 5 p.m.

She said the new order will limit indoor gatherings to 25 and outdoor gatherings to 50 in all communities except Hay River and K'atl'odeeche First Nation, where public health orders were issued yesterday.

Kandola added that businesses and organizations that want to have larger gatherings can apply for an exemption on the government of the Northwest Territories' COVID-19 website beginning today.

"This includes businesses, organization, groups who like to use proof of vaccination credentials to expand their capacity and reduce distancing," she said.

Health Minister Julie Green added that more than 10,000 N.W.T. residents have downloaded their proof of vaccination credential.

Kandola emphasized that all applications for exemptions to the gatherings limits that have been previously approved under the old public health order "will sunset, and a new request will need to be completed."

  • Missed the news conference? Watch it here.

Community-based screening program coming soon

Scott Robertson, executive director of clinical integration, said the territory will implement a new community-based screening program, called DetectNWT, for businesses and organizations in which there is a lot of contact between staff and the public.

"It's designed as a screening tool for people who have no symptoms to help to pick up any cases, and we're targeting businesses and organizations where they have high frequency contact with the public," he said, adding it's using the same type of test as the one designed for at-home testing for children aged five to 11.

Robertson emphasized the program is not designed as a work-around for people who don't get vaccinated.

"This is a program that is designed to detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals," he said.

"We really need to focus our efforts on making sure we are detecting COVID early, particularly in communities where there is no community transmission, and that will be the focus of this program."

He said DetectNWT is a self-directed program that has online videos and training packages, and has been rolled out in other jurisdictions in the country.

Robertson said the territory has been piloting the program with organizations in Yellowknife, including shelters and a long-term care home, and will announce further details about it in the next day or two.


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