The Honourable R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), met with territorial education leaders Monday, May 3 to discuss recent school closures in Yellowknife, Ndilo, Dettah and Behchokǫ̀, as a proactive measure to limit a COVID-19 outbreak at N.J. Macpherson School in Yellowknife.
During the virtual meeting, Minister Simpson reiterated the findings of the NWT Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO), confirming multiple positive cases of COVID-19 linked to a Yellowknife school. OCPHO staff attended the meeting to provide an update and answer questions from education leaders. OCPHO staff reported that they are still investigating chains of transmission that led to the outbreak in the hope of being able to identify anyone who may have been exposed.
ECE staff are supporting schools with guidance and resources to pivot to at-home learning, which is expected to start on Wednesday, May 5 in Yellowknife, Ndilo and Dettah, and Thursday, May 6 in Behchokǫ̀. This includes the continued availability of mental health counselling services for all students and their families. Education bodies are also committed to continuing to provide food programs to their students while schools are closed.
Minister Simpson committed to ensuring education leaders have the latest information from the OCPHO around school closures as soon as it’s available and to continue meeting with education leaders over the coming weeks.
Both the Minister and education leaders recognized the hard work of education staff and superintendents and the strong coordination between all school boards during this evolving situation, and acknowledged the complex operational challenges the sudden closures pose to NWT schools.
“I would like to thank education leaders for their patience, understanding and hard work during this rapidly evolving situation. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the territory’s education leaders, educators, students, families and communities have shown resilience, and this week is no exception. We are committed to ensuring that they are supported during this challenging time, and that we keep communication lines open. As always, the safety of our communities is of the utmost importance. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment will continue to work with our education partners and take direction from the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer as this situation develops.”
-R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment
“We thank the Minister and the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer for updating education leaders on school closures in Yellowknife, Ndilo, Dettah and Behchoko. Supporting our students, families and educators is our top priority as we continue to navigate this challenging situation. We are confident that our schools are prepared to provide students with the assistance and support they need. The Minister has assured education leaders that the Department will continue to update education leaders with the latest developments, and we look forward to meeting with him in the coming weeks.”
-Darlene Gruben, Chairperson, Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council
For more information contact:
Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council
Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
Department of Education, Culture and Employment