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Yukon schools to get rapid tests

Minister of Education Jeanie McLean speaking at this morning’s COVID-19 update. (screen shot from

Minister of Education Jeanie McLean announced the news this morning.

It’s been three weeks since Yukon youngsters returned to the classroom after their winter break – in the midst of what Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Catherine Elliott calls the “biggest wave” of COVID-19 the territory has ever seen.


At a press conference this morning with Dr. Elliott, Minister of Education Jeanie McLean said that schools remain a low-risk environment and students will still be able to learn as things change.


“Every school in the Yukon is prepared to support students with flexible learning – ready to pivot to online learning or learning packages if a specific student needs that,” said McLean.


“We want to make sure that every student has what they need and that there is no child left behind,” McLean added.


Starting tomorrow, like schools, exposure notices will no longer be issued for early learning child care programs. 2,8000 rapid tests are now being distributed to the programs and schools in rural communities. Tests are expected to be given out to schools in the capitol city in the coming days.


Just under 11,000 more tests are being sent to communities across the Yukon. People will receive one test as part of the initial distribution. That number is expected to increase in the next round of circulation.


Dr. Elliott says when it comes to the current wave, based on the number of tests coming back positive, we are not out of the woods yet.


“The exact percent positivity is now 38 percent. It does fluctuate from day to day and that is on the higher end of what we’ve seen,” said Dr. Elliott.


“It may just be a natural fluctuation or you know, a number of people got tested on a particular day or it may be – certainly when we have an outbreak and we test a number of people, that also impacts this, so I continue to watch that. The case count, again you’re going to see day to day fluctuations but the overall trend is table right now. This is telling me that we’re in the middle of the Omicron wave, we haven’t started to see that decline,” Dr. Elliott continued.


The Yukon has been averaging 39 new cases over the past week and 32 over the past three days. The latest case count shows 239 active infections in the territory, a drop from when there were about 500 a few weeks ago, but that doesn’t account for those who have not had a PCR test and are assumed to be sick.


Zero cases in Old Crow


There are now zero cases of COVID-19 in the territory’s only fly in community after Old Crow went into lockdown one week ago.


A social media update from the Vuntut Gwitchin Government says that two community members had positive results from PCR testing and three had positive rapid test results. All have completed self isolation, are no longer contagious, and the three who had rapid tests have since had negative results on a PCR test.


According to a Facebook post by Vuntut Gwitchin Deputy Chief Paul Josie dated January 17, there were an unknown number active infections in the community last week, prompting the lockdown and closing the co-op and store and school.


Rapid testing will be available at the community hall in Old Crow this Thursday from noon until 4:30pm, and this Friday from 9am to noon.

Written by: Dylan MacNeil

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