Masks, physical distancing no longer required in Yukon schools

As Yukon kids get ready to go back to class, Dr. Sudit Ranade, the chief medical officer of health, outlined the public health measures — and rules that will be dropped — in schools.

The Yukon government has sent out nearly 400 air purifiers for schools

A portrait of a man smiling with flags behind him.
Yukon's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade pictured on July 7. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

Yukon students head back to class next week.

It will be the third school year where students, teachers, staff and parents must once again navigate the changing COVID-19 regulations.

On Wednesday, Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade laid out what the upcoming school year will look like in terms of health precautions in light of the pandemic, alongside Yukon deputy minister of education Nicole Morgan.

"We've learned a lot in terms of balance between what kids need in terms of their learning, growth, and development and how that is impacted by some of the public health measures," Ranade said.

"We really recognize and focus on the fact that kids need to be able to socialize together and learning itself is a social activity."

Morgan said 397 HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) units — air purifying systems — were deployed across all Yukon schools.

"All school ventilation systems have been inspected and cleaned, filters replaced," she said.

Meanwhile, Ranade said no new restrictions are being implemented in schools across the Yukon at this time, and masks along with physical distancing will no longer be required.

However, he said some requirements will continue. People are asked to make sure their hands are regularly washed, and to stay home when sick, while schools should keep up with cleaning and disinfection of surfaces often.

Ranade directed people to the Yukon Government's website where all of the information surrounding COVID-19 and back to school protocols can be accessed.

"There's a revised version of the 'stop light' that essentially is a tool for parents to use to help them decide if [their] child has these symptoms, is it OK for them to go to school or not."

Keeping up on vaccinations was also brought up during the news conference.

"Those are going to help with ... reducing the burden of illness," he said. "Everyone over six months is eligible for COVID vaccines."

Ranade committed to continuing to work with the Department of Education and Yukon Communicable Disease Control, and to continually revisit and update recommendations and guidance as COVID-19 changes in the territory and other jurisdictions

"We'll be working closely to see how does this school year go, and what are the supports that might be needed," he said, "or, the conversations that we might have to have in order to ensure the continued healthy operation of schools."


Chris MacIntyre is a CBC reporter in Dawson City, Yukon.