Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

THE SHIFT BEGINS – The move of equipment for the education programs leaving the Wood Street Centre is underway. They are being shifted to Porter Creek and F.H. Collins Secondary Schools.

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

SCHEDULES OUT IN A WEEK – Grades 10-12 students in Whitehorse who will attend school for half-days will receive their schedules on Aug. 12, says David Wipf (above), the Department of Education’s assistant deputy minister of Schools and Student Services.

‘These are very interesting times’

The Department of Education is working quickly to finalize operational plans, school schedules and the movement of experiential programs in time for the beginning of the school year on Aug. 20, according to department officials.

By Gabrielle Plonka on August 5, 2020

The Department of Education is working quickly to finalize operational plans, school schedules and the movement of experiential programs in time for the beginning of the school year on Aug. 20, according to department officials.

“These are very interesting times – we have not been through this type of experience before,” David Wipf, the assistant deputy minister of Schools and Student Services, told the Star Tuesday.

“Our goals have been to, first and foremost, follow the health and safety guidelines … and get as many students back to face-to-face learning as possible.”

On July 9, the government announced its plan to send Grades 10-12 students back to classrooms half-time, with the remainder of learning happening remotely.

Grade 8 students will move to the Wood Street Centre and experiential programs will shift from Wood Street to other high schools.

Full operational plans will be available for families on Aug. 12. Whitehorse schools will begin classes on Aug. 20, the government announced Tuesday.

The first day of classes was pushed back to allow a professional development day for teachers on Aug. 19.

French First Language students will also start on Aug. 20. Individual Learning Centre students will begin on Aug. 26, not Aug. 25.

The health and safety guidelines for schools are already posted to the government’s website.

Wipf said students attending school for half-days will receive their schedules on Aug. 12. He conceded that there won’t be much time for families to plan around those half-days, and the tight timeline is challenging.

“Nobody wanted this; we do not have the luxury of a lot of time for the planning, we’ve been under tight time constraints all along,” Wipf said.

“What we do promise is that all of the details parents need will be provided by Aug. 12, so parents should look for that information.”

Last week, the Star spoke with parents who are concerned that Grades 10 to 12 students might lack the motivation to complete all the remote learning required, and will only receive half their education.

Some said remote learning was challenging and ineffective for their kids during the spring.

Wipf said the Yukon’s “blended learning” model will ensure that students receive their full education.

“We must provide a full year of learning and we are committed to doing that,” Wipf said.

Every student will receive face-to-face instruction to support remote learning.

Wipf said he is confident that students’ learning will be better supported than the entirely remote programming that was provided last spring.

“We understand that there were challenges for students, staff and families as we adapted to distance learning for spring, but the Grade 10 to 12 learning for students now will not be like the end of last year,” Wipf said.

Teachers will collaborate on supervised study halls to ensure students don’t fall behind on their coursework, he explained.

Multiple parents told the Star last week they are considering hiring tutors to keep their children up to speed.

Wipf recommended that parents consult with their children’s teachers to address concerns if they feel their kids are falling behind.

“What we would really encourage is that parents stay in very close contact with their classroom teacher to be aware of how their child is doing,” Wipf said.

“And then, in a very timely manner, address concerns; it will be the teachers that are the experts.” 

Wipf provided some details on the plan to move experiential programs from the Wood Street Centre.

OPES (Outdoor Pursuits and Experiential Science) and PASE (Plein Air et Sciences Experientielles) will move to F.H. Collins Secondary School.

All other experiential programs, including MAD (Music, Arts and Drama), will relocate to Porter Creek Secondary School.

Staff began moving equipment from the Wood Street Centre this week.

“What we’ve asked teachers at Wood Street to do is identify what equipment they’re going to need immediately,” Wipf said.

Experiential students can expect all the equipment they will need to be ready and available to them at the new location, Wipf said.

The experiential programs will be “closely monitored” at their new locations.

“We highly value those programs,” Wipf said.

“We’re working with school principals at these high schools and school staff responsible at these programs to ensure that the program integrity is intact.

“We will support that, and ensure that, not only with our experiential programs but with all schools as we work together on this very challenging and I’m sure very exciting school year.”

See related story and letter ode to the Wood Street Centre.

Comments (8)

Up 0 Down 1

brian on Aug 11, 2020 at 8:15 pm

lol at the comments complaining about censorship on a website that is owned by a private company!! If you read the terms and conditions you'd know why comments are censored. This is a forum that has the right to not post anything they deem unacceptable. If you want Freedom of Expression make a sign and stand on Two Mile Hill!

Up 0 Down 2

TheHammer on Aug 10, 2020 at 11:05 am

Sword concerned censored: Even as I speak that wily old god Hermes is twisting my words out of shape. Some people have no idea of the role played by the unconscious mind in their psychobabble. Cyberspace is psyche on stage.

Up 19 Down 3

drum on Aug 9, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Just curious - where has our MP Larry Bagnel been throughout our difficult times in the Yukon while collecting his paycheque every two weeks?

Up 14 Down 2

Ken’s Sword Censored by the Media Hoard and No One Should Be On Board on Aug 8, 2020 at 3:53 pm

Dear Concerned: There is an increasing trend in censorship to the point that society can no longer have intelligent debate either privately or publicly, but especially, publicly. This is dangerous territory we are in and I too have had comments mangled or censored completely which could have only been deemed inappropriate in the sense that our/your thoughts are being controlled and manipulated - Et tu Whitehorse Star...

Up 11 Down 7

Concerned on Aug 7, 2020 at 6:30 pm

I've had 2 comments on here censored. All I tried to do was shine a light on sneaky Yukon Party operatives/donors trying to hijack public concern about schools on certain Facebook groups. I'm just wondering why this is not allowed but bigoted comments about BLM and LGBTQ on other stories are?

Up 26 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Aug 7, 2020 at 5:00 pm

If the pandemic has cooled down enough to allow students back into schools, why then are the elected officials of the City and the Yukon government still not back at their jobs that they ran from when all this isolation started? If Johnnie can sit in class, then MLAs should also be able to sit in the Legislature and City Councillors can sit in chambers and do their work.

Up 23 Down 6

No name on Aug 5, 2020 at 8:06 pm

Why do the grade 10-12 students only have half days? Why not full? Have they put the metal health of those student in to consideration? This will be the worst year ever, if these days stay like this.

Up 22 Down 6

Kevin Greenshields on Aug 5, 2020 at 6:59 pm

If these experiential programs were so valued they would not move them!? I suggest these programs will not move back to Wood Street Centre. They are expensive but the value to student learning is even higher. Some equipment is very expensive and can not be moved (parts of the unique to the Yukon black box theatre) and some will be put in cold storage from what I understand. MAD has little storage at PCSC and MAD will be in shared classroom spaces some of the time. The point of having it at Wood Street Centre was that no bells ( ask Bob Sharp) and the location was a key component of the hands on learning model which gave students a special place away from regular school cohorts.
Moving experiential programs into a regular school is short sighted. Just as deconstructing a 25 yr+ experiential developed school for regular classes for one year shows little value for these special programs. Will it be safe for the grade 8 cohort downtown? Do they get their high school electives? Did they consider using space to elementary schools? We will never know the real cost both financial or loss of student learning because of these drastic stressful moves!
Why has it been two weeks plus and the MAD parent dept of Ed promised tour of PC has not happened? If students can go back to school then shouldn’t the legislative assembly be back in session as well? They have room for proper social distancing. They both stopped about the same time. I have written letters (emails) with many of the same questions and suggestions but no answers only one well written form letter in return.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.