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Return to school delayed until Jan. 10 in N.W.T. due to COVID-19 risks

A letter from the public school board in Yellowknife says that 'all N.W.T. education bodies have agreed' to push the start of classes back to the second week of January, at the recommendation of the territory's top public health official.

Classes will start again, in person, the second week of January

Yellowknife Education District No. 1, the city's public school board, said in a letter to parents on Thursday that the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer recommended schools remain closed for the first week of January because of an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission. (Donna Lee/CBC)

Schools throughout the N.W.T. have pushed back the day classes start in the new year to Jan. 10.

A Thursday news release from the territorial government states that schools will be closed for the week of Jan. 4 to 7, and that there will be no online classes during that time. Schools will reopen and classes will start again, in person, on Jan. 10.

Yellowknife Education District No. 1, the city's public school board, said in a letter to parents, dated Thursday, that the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer recommended schools remain closed for the first week of January because of an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

"All N.W.T. education bodies have agreed," reads the letter, which is signed by Cindi Vaselenak, the board's education superintendent. The territory's education department also issued a statement about the change shortly before noon.

The delay will allow students, their families, and school staff who are travelling back into the N.W.T. to follow public health guidance for returning to the territory, adhere to self-isolation plans, and keep their communities safe, the statements said.

Dr. Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer, has recommended people returning from outside the territory gather only with their own household, wear masks and avoid "high risk activities" for 72 hours upon their return. 

Vaselenak's letter also says that rapid test kits have been distributed to "all participating schools" and that students who received one before the holidays should test themselves the day before school starts again.

Students with the Yellowknife public school board were previously expected to return to class on Jan. 5.

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