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No more face-to-face classes for Yukon students this year

Yukon's public schools will remain closed to students for the rest of this school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting next week, they'll be doing at-home learning.

Education Minister said Tuesday that in-class learning suspended for remainder of school year

Yukon Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said on Tuesday face-to-face classes are cancelled for the rest of the school year. Students will continue their learning using online tools and other non-classroom methods. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Yukon's public schools will remain closed to students for the rest of this school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee announced on Tuesday.

"This is not an easy decision. We have made this decision in the best interest of the health and safety of students, families and communities," McPhee said at a news conference.

Officials say face-to-face classes will be replaced by at-home learning, tailored to meet student needs. McPhee says that could mean using online tools, or more conventional teaching methods. 

Last month, the government announced classes would be suspended until at least April 15 and did not say what would happen after that. Then last week, officials said teachers were looking at ways to offer "essential learning" from a distance, through apps and other online resources.

"Each school is considering a variety of ways to provide learning opportunities, including for families who may not have access to technology," McPhee said on Tuesday.

She assured parents that the plan is not for traditional homeschooling — teachers will still be guiding students' learning.

"We do not expect you to turn your kitchens and living rooms into schools, or become teachers," McPhee told parents.

Yukon's school buildings will still be used this year by teachers and staff, but they're closed to students and user groups. (CBC)

She said the Department of Education is working with B.C. education officials to develop new requirements for students.

Schools will be expected to assign students work based on their grade level, and what's been deemed "essential learning" for their age.

For example, students in kindergarten to Grade 6 will get about five hours of assigned work per week, focused on literacy and numeracy skills. Students in Grades 10 to 12 will get about 3 hours of assigned work per course, per week.  

McPhee says students will still receive report cards, and any Grade 12 students on track to graduate, will graduate.

Learning to resume on April 16

For students, nothing will begin until April 16. In the meantime, teachers will continue to connect with families and figure out plans for the rest of the year.

Nicole Morgan, Yukon's deputy minister of education, said teachers are adaptable — and this is normally the time of year when they're figuring out how to ensure students' needs are met through the rest of the school year.

"What they are truly adapting to [now] is a different type of instruction that is done more remotely," Morgan said.

"We are also connecting teachers, and asking them to share with one another their ideas and ways they are adapting, so that they are building a community of support." 

Yukon's school buildings will still be used this year by teachers and staff, but they're closed to students and user groups.

As of Monday, Yukon had seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 and four of those people had recovered.

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