Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) Minister R.J. Simpson met with Northwest Territories (NWT) Education Leaders and the NWT Teachers’ Association (NWTTA) via teleconference on June 16, 2020 to discuss details of school reopening plans and how learning will be maintained throughout the 2020-2021 school year.
All NWT schools have submitted plans for approval to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. Schools are striving to provide a safe way for students to receive as much in-person, curriculum-based instructional time in classrooms with teachers as possible, with new health and safety procedures and restrictions in place.
When full-time in-person learning is not possible, education will be delivered through a blended learning approach, where students are learning part time in school, as well as part time at home or on the land. Distance learning will also be available for students who cannot attend school due to higher health risks, or in cases where schools must close temporarily due to serious health and safety concerns posed by COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a dynamic situation and plans may need to change as new information or public health and workplace safety requirements are identified. Education bodies are taking a flexible approach in their planning to account for a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the fall of 2020, which includes measures to ensure schools are able to remain open, to the extent possible, if there are new COVID-19 cases in the NWT and that, regardless of circumstances, students will continue to learn. Schools are preparing to shift between in-person, distance and blended learning at short notice should there become active COVID-19 cases, and parents, guardians, students and communities should be prepared for the learning situation to change quickly in response to evolving circumstances.
Education Leaders discussed how to best communicate school reopening plans with the public. Details of reopening plans will vary for each school and grade level, and will be shared with students, staff, parents, guardians and the public once reviewed and approved by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer. A high level public document will also be released that lays out what the public can generally expect to see at schools in the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
ECE and its education partners are working diligently to create a supportive and effective learning environment for students in the 2020-2021 school year and beyond, and are committed to providing regular updates to the public as plans move forward for the upcoming school year.
“As we work together to develop plans to reopen schools in the fall, we continue to anticipate the ongoing and evolving challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools will be taking a flexible approach that prioritizes in-person learning, while providing alternative options for continued learning to ensure our students continue to receive education while we protect the health and safety of students, staff and communities.”
-R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment
“Although there are many moving parts to consider, all education bodies are staying the course and are now developing plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Once our school plans are approved by the OCPHO, we will be able to share the details with parents, remembering that changes may still be forthcoming. We are proud of our work and look forward to sharing our plans with our stakeholders soon.”
-Erin Currie, Chair of Yellowknife Catholic Schools, on behalf of NWT Education Leaders
Government of the Northwest Territories