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Many Yukon students head back to class for the first time since pandemic hit

WHITEHORSE — Students in many parts of Yukon are heading back to class for the first day of the new school year.

All kindergarten to Grade 12 students in Whitehorse are in class, while the Robert Service School in Dawson, and schools in Carmacks and Teslin also begin the year.

Schools in other rural communities resume next week or in early September.

This is the first time Yukon students have been in classrooms since the COVID-19 pandemic shut schools in March.

Each school has individual operating plans, which include more spacing for students.

Ted Hupe, president of the Yukon Teachers' Association, says making principals responsible for implementing back-to-school plans placed a big burden on them.

"It also created some inconsistencies in the sense that we have some principals who are more skilled at this operational plan creation than others," Hupe said.

"We understand the need to individual operational plans, but the whole process was very rushed and it put a lot of stress on our members."

Hupe said principals and teachers were called in to work to prepare for the school year in the beginning of August and parents were made aware of the new plans last week.

"It was really hard for the public, and including our association, to examine (the plans) closely."

He said the association has had consultations with Yukon Education recently that he said have been helpful, adding he hopes those talks will continue.

This report from the Canadian Press was first published Aug. 20, 2020

The Canadian Press

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