A message from Minister Simpson on the reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year

Media Statement

Yellowknife — August 18, 2020

R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment released the following statement today regarding the reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year:

“Over the past number of months, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and education bodies have worked hard to create school re-opening plans that will ensure all students in the Northwest Territories (NWT) can continue their education during the upcoming school year. While consideration has been given to the unique circumstance of each community and school, every reopening plan has been developed in accordance with guidelines provided by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO). These guidelines, which are based on the most up to date research from across Canada and around the world, place the utmost importance on protecting students, staff, families, and communities. I am pleased to report that re-opening plans for all 49 schools in the NWT have been reviewed and approved by the OCPHO, and that education bodies have started communicating the details of these plans to students, families and communities.”

“I understand that parents, students and teachers will have many questions as we get closer to the first day of school. I want to reassure you that we are working diligently with education bodies and the OCPHO to ensure that school re-opening plans provide an effective learning environment for students while prioritizing the health, safety and well-being of all students, staff and communities.”

“The majority of students in the NWT will begin full time, in-person classes in the fall. However, some students will participate in blended learning, which is a combination of in-person and at home education. The reality is that some schools simply do not have enough space within their existing facilities or in their communities to accommodate all students full time while complying with physical distancing requirements mandated by the OCPHO. An extraordinary amount of work and creativity has gone into ensuring as many students as possible will be able to return to schools this fall, and I commend all those involved in achieving this monumental task.”

“In order to support the students and teachers participating in blended learning, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and a number of other departments have been working in collaboration with education bodies to standardize online learning platforms and address gaps in access to technology. This work is being informed by the education system’s recent experience with distance learning.”

“Great care has been taken to ensure all school re-opening plans comply with the requirements of the OCPHO and prioritize safety, while still providing an enriched learning environment. That said, there is no doubt that schools will look and feel different this year. We will need to be flexible and responsive, as well as patient and understanding, as we all adjust to a new model of learning.”