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Yukon schools plan for distance education as classrooms stay empty

Yukon education officials are still trying to figure out what to do about the rest of the school year — but say it's unlikely that students will be back in classrooms this spring.

Classes suspended until Apr. 15 at Yukon schools because of COVID-19, no decision yet beyond that

Classes at Yukon schools are suspended until Apr. 15 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. No decision has been made about what happens after that. (François Gagnon/Radio-Canada)

Yukon education officials are still trying to figure out what to do about the rest of the school year — but say it's unlikely that students will be back in classrooms this spring.

Right now, classes are suspended until Apr. 15 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. No decision has been made about what happens after that.

Officials in other jurisdictions, including the N.W.T., have already decided to shutter their schools for the rest of the year.

"We are on top of this, it's a question that comes to us every single day, a question that we are working on hard because we want to give people as much notice as possible," said Yukon Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee earlier this week.

Deputy minister Nicole Morgan said educators are now busy trying to figure out different scenarios for after Apr. 15, and how to ensure that learning continues.

'We're not going to leave families in suspense,' said Nicole Morgan, Yukon's deputy minister of education. (CBC)

She admits that classroom learning looks more and more unlikely for this year.

"One scenario that we can see pretty clearly on the wall, is that we're not going to return to a building like FH Collins [Secondary School] with 700 students in it. We know that this is a different time, and that's why we need these two weeks to adapt and prepare," she said.

'In good shape' for distance learning

Morgan says teachers are identifying "the most essential learning," and looking for ways to deliver it from afar, using technology. She says many schools have good supplies of iPads and laptops. 

"Our Yukon schools are actually in really good shape for this type of learning," Morgan said.

"As part of the work we've been doing to modernize education and implement Yukon's new curriculum, we did do a lot of work in our schools to move away from computer labs and provide schools with mobile technology ... We have these tools available to us right now."

She said educators are also considering other ways to deliver learning, for families who do not have online access at home. 

Morgan said schools are this week reaching out to families, to figure out the best ways to plan and communicate. She says parents and students will know what's going on before Apr. 15.

"We're not going to leave families in suspense and on that day find out what's going on," she said.

With files from Mike Rudyk and Christine Genier

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