Health and safety in schools: COVID-19

Throughout the pandemic, we’ll keep as many students in classes in schools as is safely possible. Measures in school will follow the health and safety guidelines for K-12 school settings set by Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

The health and safety guidelines for K-12 school settings were updated on November 20, 2020. To ensure these guidelines are implemented at schools, School administrators will:

  • update their school operational plans;
  • have them reviewed and approved by their school council and Area Superintendent; and 
  • put in place the new changes.

Students and staff should practise Safe 6: take the 6 steps to stay safe.

Staying home when sick

Students and staff must stay home when they’re sick or showing symptoms. Learn about symptoms and the traffic light system for when to keep your child home from school. You can also download and print the traffic light poster for your home.

For 6 months to 5 years old:

For 6 years and older:

For adults:

If a student or staff gets sick at school 

  • The student or staff will be immediately separated into a designated area.
  • The student or staff will be provided with a mask.
  • The student’s parent or guardian will be contacted to pick up the student as soon as possible.
  • The school staff member who's sick will go home as soon as possible
  • The designated area will be cleaned and disinfected.

If a COVID-19 case is connected to a school

Students or staff who've been diagnosed with COVID-19 will be required to:

  • self-isolate at home; and
  • follow instructions provided by Yukon Communicable Disease Control.

Yukon Communicable Disease Control will contact;

  • the staff member; or
  • student and the student’s parent or guardian.

Yukon Communicable Disease Control will:

  • start contact tracing;
  • identify and notify any close contacts; and
  • provide directions.

For example, they may ask them to:

  • stay home;
  • self-isolate; 
  • watch for symptoms; or 
  • continue going to school while monitoring for symptoms.

Notifying other students, staff and families 

Yukon Communicable Disease Control will make all necessary notifications with support from the Department of Education. You do not need to contact Yukon Communicable Disease Control if you think you're a close contact. They'll contact you. 

Your child is not at risk if Yukon Communicable Disease Control does not contact you.

Yukon Communicable Disease Control will identify and notify any close contacts, including:

  • other students; 
  • staff; and 
  • families.

They'll ensure the privacy and security of personal health information. They'll provide directions to close contacts on:

  • self-monitoring; or 
  • self-isolation based on their risk of exposure. 

To learn more about how this will affect school operations, visit School operations in the 2020‒21 school year: COVID-19.

Wearing masks

The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is through preventative measures, such as:

  • physical distancing;
  • frequent handwashing; and
  • staying home when sick.

Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health now requires non-medical masks in all indoor school settings outside of the classroom as of December 1, 2020 for:

  • staff; and 
  • students aged 10 years and older. 

This includes:

  • hallways;
  • common areas; and
  • on the school bus.

Students do not need to wear a mask in a classroom if they are able to maintain 1 metre of physical distance from each other. Staff must continue to maintain a 2 metre distance from students and other staff.

Masks are not required for students under the age of 10 but they may choose to wear one.

Each school will have masks available for students and staff when needed. Children aged 10 years and older may also bring their own mask to use at school or on the school bus.

The updated direction on non-medial mask requirements in public spaces for children over age 2 does not apply to:

  • school settings; and
  • school buses.

Schools and school buses are not considered public spaces because access by the general public is limited.

To support your child in properly wearing a mask, review:

Physical distancing

Students and staff will need to practise physical distancing in schools. This may include:

  • smaller classrooms and group sizes;
  • managing traffic in common areas like hallways and cafeterias; and
  • staggering times for pick-ups, drop-offs, recess and lunch.

The guidelines state physical distancing is not always possible with children.

Staff and students 10 years old and over must wear a mask in indoor areas where physical distancing is not possible.

In common areas

Students and staff must maintain 2 metres of physical distancing. This includes hallways and cafeterias.

In the classroom

Students can be as close as 1 metre from each other. Physical distancing is not required for students from the same household. Staff must continue to maintain a 2 metre distance from students and other staff.

Safe 6 measures

Students and staff will continue minimizing physical contact and following the Safe 6 measures, such as:

  • handwashing;
  • cleaning and disinfecting; and
  • making sure students and staff stay home when sick or showing symptoms.

Handwashing and personal hygiene

Students and school staff will need to wash or sanitize their hands:

  • before they come to school; and
  • frequently during the day.

Cleaning and disinfecting

All schools:

There will be more frequent cleaning of high-touch areas and equipment such as:

  • washrooms;
  • light switches;
  • doorknobs;
  • desks; and
  • digital devices.

Food or meals at school

Food served at school:

  • must be individually portioned or wrapped; and
  • cannot be served buffet-style.

Food and drinks cannot be shared.

Students and staff should practise proper handwashing before and after eating.

We encourage students to bring their own water bottles to reduce contact at the water fountains.

Sharing learning materials

The sharing of school supplies and learning materials will be limited. If materials are shared, they need to be cleaned and disinfected.

To limit sharing, all students need to have their own school supplies. Parents may contact their school if they need support for their school supplies.

Some classes may use some shared learning materials, such as:

  • toys;
  • blocks; and
  • other learning materials, which will be cleaned and disinfected.

Students will wash or sanitize their hands before and after each use of shared materials.

As outlined in the health and safety guidelines for schools, paper-based materials are okay to use:

  • textbooks;
  • books; and
  • paper handouts.

Physical education and school sports

Physical activity is important for a healthy life and child development. The Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health provided health and safety guidelines for physical education and school sports.

The guidelines acknowledge that many physical education activities and sports involve:

  • close contact; and
  • shared equipment among students, staff, coaches and volunteers.

The following measures can help reduce risk:

  • physical distancing;
  • hand hygiene;
  • enhanced cleaning and disinfection; and
  • keeping students and staff home when they're sick or showing symptoms.

When planning for activities that involve contact, whether in gym class or as part of after-school sports, schools will follow:

Singing and music

Music is important for:

  • brain development;
  • social-emotional learning; and
  • cultural connectedness.

There’s some risk associated with singing and playing music and COVID-19.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health released health and safety guidelines for singing and playing music. They outline how these activities can go forward for all Yukoners while ensuring health and safety.

Singing and playing music has always been a valuable part of the school experience for students. With these new guidelines in place, school administrators and educators will determine:

  • how music programming at their school may be adjusted; and
  • if extra musical opportunities can be offered.

School field trips

The health and safety guidelines allow field trips within:

  • Yukon; and
  • Canada.

This includes:

  • outdoor overnight trips if students sleep in their own tent or are only partnered with a family member;
  • hotel stays, as long as no more than 2 students are in each room; and
  • schools will be assessing any planned school field trips on a case-by-case basis and will provide updates to students and parents directly.