Yellowknife Education District No. 1 (Yk 1) has released specific reopening plans for its six schools for the coming school year.
The release comes just days after the three school districts in Yellowknife published general guidelines on how schools will operate during the Covid-19 pandemic when they open on Aug. 31.
RELATED REPORTING: Yellowknife schools release pandemic reopening plans
Common rules for schools
Many measures apply to all Yk 1 schools except Sir John Franklin, which shares some measures with other schools but has several unique to itself.
All classes will be held full-time and in-person.
Students will be organized in their class bubbles, with little to no mixing with other classes while indoors. Mixing with other classes outside is permitted. Students will move through the school in their bubbles.
Students must keep two metres of distance between themselves and staff members.
Some schools will provide students with non-medical masks. They don’t have to be worn in class but students might be directed to wear them at certain times and in some areas of the school. Masks must be worn while taking the bus.
Sharing food or school supplies won’t be permitted. Parents should send children to school with those items labelled, including individual water bottles and put in bags.
An unspecified screening tool will be given to parents to ensure that if students have any Covid-19 symptoms they will stay home.
Parents are generally not encouraged to enter schools and should call ahead if they plan to visit.
Schools will have staggered drop-off and pick-up times and places.
Students from J.H. Sissons will be integrated into William McDonald School for the next two years due to the demolition of the decades-old Sissons building this summer. The schools’ reopening plans were developed collaboratively.
The addition of the Sissons students will increase the number of students at William McDonald to about 400, as former Yk 1 superintendent Metro Huculak said in June.
More information on the school reopening as it relates to the integration of Sissons students will be sent out on Monday, Aug. 17, stated principal Graham Arts in the release.
Classes will stay in their assigned classrooms except for outdoor learning, breaks, and for physical education which will take place in the gym or outdoors.
Specialty classes like music and English for Grades 3 to 5 will be in their assigned rooms.
Outdoor breaks for recess and lunch will be staggered, with up to 25 per cent of the students being outside at any one time.
Students will be able to access hand sanitizing stations once they enter the school and inside their classrooms.
Grade 6 and 7 students will use the community access doors as the main access point. Sissons students will use the front entrance.
JK to K students will go to the portables at the back of the school.
Lunches will be eaten in classrooms and the rooms cleaned after each lunch period.
Athletic Academy and after-school sports will be postponed pending final approval from the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO).
All programs will be offered but specialty ones like music and physical education will have modifications according to CPHO guidelines. Exploratory programs will take place inside the classroom bubbles.
Mildred Hall School
The Franklin Ave. school will offer its full curriculum but with no singing, usage of wind instruments in music class and no high-contact sports in physical education.
Grade 7 to 8 students must keep a distance of one metre between each other. If that distance cannot be maintained they must wear a mask.
While JK to 6 students can play together in smaller groups during recess, Grade 7 to 8 will have their own recess times outside with their own classroom bubbles. Grade 7 to 8 students will be discouraged from using playground equipment.
When classes are dismissed at 3:25 p.m. students will walk outside or to their after-school program with their teacher and classroom bubble. JK, K and Grade 1 students will be walked outside to their playground structure when the bell rings and a staff member will wait with them until they are picked up. Grade 2 to 8 students will be dismissed at the front door.
Parents driving students to school should drop them off and pick them up in the parking lot. If walking their children to school they will be asked to do drop-off and pick-up at the playground gates to reduce the size of groups of adults on the playground.
Range Lake North
The Borden Dr. school will provide two reusable non-medical masks per student, which will be kept at school. Staff will launder the masks daily.
Students will be taught new routines including reminders to wash their hands.
Specialty classes will be ongoing though music and physical education will be modified.
Recess periods will be staggered, with about half of the student body going outside at one time.
Parents of Grades 1 to 5 students will only be allowed to access the school in exceptional circumstances. Parents of JK to K students can enter the school for drop-off and pick-up of their children at certain times but one to five parents must stay outside and meet their children there.
Those parents can also drop off their children at their classroom if parents are wearing a face mask, enter at the main entrance and exit using the designated exist closest to the classroom.
Sir John Franklin
Classes for Grade 8 and 9 students will be held in-person from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Students in Grades 10 to 12 will attend in-person classes for half of the day and will do school work off-campus for the other half, which could be in the morning or afternoon.
Morning students must leave the school by 11:45 a.m. Afternoon students can enter at 12:00 p.m. and move directly to class. They must leave the school by 3:45 p.m.
Sir John principal Dean MacInnis said the off-campus work will consist of homework that might be supplemented with online activities from Google Classroom.
The half-day off-campus learning will be introduced because there isn’t enough physical space to have all Grade 10 to 12 students in their classrooms at the same time while they’re distanced 2 metres apart, MacInnis said.
He added that Aurora College had offered the use of some classrooms for Sir John classes but it wouldn’t be logistically feasible to move students and teachers there.
The high school’s full curriculum will run as usual, with specialty and Career and Technology Studies (CTS) programs happening with modifications.
Some extracurricular activities will be offered with modifications, MacInnis explained.
“Our MAGMA (Magnanimous Advocates Generating Mental Health Awareness) group and students council will be able to meet virtually. But basketball games and other team sports played against other schools are off limits. Right now we’re focused on getting kids in academically. After a few weeks, once the kids get into the new routine we’ll reassess our first steps with some of the extracurriculars,” he said.
Grades 8 to 9 students will use the front main entrance and Grades 10 to 12 students will enter the school through the Northern Arts and Culture Centre doors. The same students will use those entrances to exit the building at the end of their day.
Backpacks and book bags are required for students since locker use has been halted.
Masks must be worn at all times in the hallways as students move through the school.
Students and staff will wipe down all work areas at the end of each period.
The lunch hour will be occupied by cleaning the school and for student transitions. Grade 8 to 9 students will eat lunch in designated classrooms.