Whitehorse Daily Star

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LIMITED INFORMATION RELEASED – The Department of Education has advised some students of F.H. Collins Secondary School to go into self-isolation. Parents have been sent a letter to that effect.

Some Whitehorse students advised to self-isolate

Some students at F.H. Collins Secondary School have been advised to go into self-isolation by the Department of Education.

By Tim Giilck on January 7, 2021

Revised - Some students at F.H. Collins Secondary School have been advised to go into self-isolation by Yukon Communicable Disease Control. The issue was addressed to parents in a letter sent out by a deputy-minister with the Department of Education.

“We are writing to let you know that some high school-aged students in Whitehorse have been advised by Yukon Communicable Disease Control to self-isolate in an abundance of caution due to a potential exposure to COVID-19 over the Christmas break while outside of school,” says a letter to parents from the department, obtained by the Star.

The letter goes on to state “the Yukon Communicable Disease Control and the Chief Medical Officer of Health have advised us that no high school in Whitehorse is currently considered an exposure site for potential COVID-19 transmission, and that all Yukon schools remain low-risk environments.

“As a result, all schools, including Whitehorse high schools, continue to remain open while following their school operational plans and all health and safety guidelines.”

Public health officials are following up on the situation, and said, “If you are not contacted by Yukon Communicable Disease Control, it has been determined you and your child are currently not at risk. Please do not contact them directly.”

Department spokesman Kyle Nightingale issued the following statement:

“The letter was sent out to address some of the concerns we have been hearing.

“At this time, the most current information we have is outlined in the letter, and as the letter states, all schools remain open and are following their operational plans and health and safety guidelines to ensure the health and safety of students and staff.

“The exposure referenced was during an activity outside of school over the Christmas break.”

Dr. Brendan Hanley faced several pointed questions on the letter during his first weekly COVID-19 briefing of the year on Thursday afternoon.

He was questioned intently on the number of students instructed to self-isolate, and whether they had attended school before being instructed to isolate and whether any charges were pending for not following COVID safety protocols.

Hanley said public health officials are looking into a number of gatherings over the New Year’s weekend that “three or four” high school students attended.

He told John Kennedy from the Rush radio station that he didn’t have all of the details on the situation.

That didn’t go over well.

“What do you mean you don’t have all the details?” Kennedy asked. “It’s your job to know.”

Hanley said while one person who has attracted the attention of public health attended more than one of these gatherings, he wasn’t an “infector”, despite rumours to the contrary.

“It was not an individual who knew he was infected,” Hanley said.

The doctor stressed there is no sign of an outbreak or transmission at any school in the territory, and the instructions for the students to self-isolate were precautionary.

“There is no evidence of any exposure at schools,” he said.

The students had attended classes this week, Hanley confirmed.

The investigation had required some time to complete its initial phase.

Hanley also said he wanted to dispel rumours about the status of the students. He stressed the only source of information to be trusted would be found on the government website.

“We will tell you what you need to know,” he declared.

The question of how to notify the public of potential exposures to the virus, particularly at schools, has been a controversial one for at least the last two months.

The government has been frequently criticized for its adherence to a policy that seemingly favours the privacy of people who have contracted the virus, over providing public information.

Ted Hupé, the president of the Yukon Teachers Association, has likewise publicly urged the government to offer full public disclosure of any COVID-19 case alerts involving students or education system personnel.

Comments (7)

Up 6 Down 1

Oya on Jan 13, 2021 at 12:12 pm

"We will tell you what (we think) you need to know." Does that not sum up this government completely? Can't WAIT for an election!!!

Up 7 Down 0

YukonMax on Jan 12, 2021 at 6:07 am

"the only source of information to be trusted would be found on the government website"
That is unfortunate.

Up 16 Down 1

Jim on Jan 11, 2021 at 9:28 am

@just saying, yes jobs do make the world go around. I know in the Yukon, the majority of people have the luxury of staying home and receiving full pay. Nice gig if you can get it. But trust me, someone else who is dragging their ass off to work is paying for it. It’s not that hard just to be safe by following protocols as outlined by our health department. If nobody worked through the whole pandemic, who would be supplying your food, clothing, utilities, etc. The government has no money of their own, so all these government funds and vote buying gimmicks will come due. Much like the rest of the Covid cases we’ve had in the Yukon are not work or school related. These students may have been exposed during Christmas break, not at school.

Up 19 Down 6

yukoner on Jan 8, 2021 at 7:00 pm

So, Hanley gets paid a million dollars in salary & bonuses and he can't explain anything. He will want to drag this all out for another million dollar payout in 2021 .

Up 12 Down 4

Just saying on Jan 8, 2021 at 4:54 pm

Just like everywhere else - money first covid 2nd. Oh I have a job so I have to send my kids to school. But I hope we realize that money is not the end of the world. So take care yukoners.

Up 33 Down 8

Don't want to teach from home! on Jan 8, 2021 at 3:47 pm

To William Eccles: I don't want to teach from home. And parents don't want their kids home as they have to work, so being at school is an essential part of our society so the economy and the adults can work. These students who partied and ignored rules over the break should be punished as should their parents. SHAME!
The rest of us are following rules and not seeing our family/friends indoors; what makes you students so special that you couldn't have had your party outside or just not partied at all!? Ignorant, selfish behaviours that make all of the students in school fearful, parents scared and keeping their kids home, and teachers full of anxiety to do their jobs. And all of this because of privileged, doesn't- apply- to- me individuals.

Up 13 Down 26

William Eccles on Jan 7, 2021 at 7:53 pm

Schools for the youth should have been doing what the college is doing. Video and internet schooling. Teachers could have done lessons on YouTube. Over the summer everything could have been worked out even before the summer. Why put our children at risk, why when everywhere else is shut down and the covid continues to thrive and mutate.

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