‘Significantly’ more Canadian students enrol in Yukon’s virtual school this year

Aurora Virtual School teachers work with students online to complete Yukon curriculum. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)
Yukon’s virtual school program says “significantly” more families are choosing at-home schooling this year due to COVID-19.

“There has been quite an influx in interest,” said Edward Frison, team leader at Aurora Virtual School. “It’s been quite busy.”

Aurora Virtual School is Yukon’s publicly funded, distance-learning program, where families can get help from teachers online.

Teacher Reid Levac said he worked with around 25 families last year. But that number has almost doubled.

“There has been a rapid, dramatic increase in the amount of families who are choosing, at least temporarily, to keep their children at home amidst the pandemic,” said Levac, who is the kindergarten to Grade 7 liaison teacher at Aurora Virtual School.

Reid Levac works with kindergarten to Grade 7 students at Aurora Virtual School. He says he’s working with more than 50 families this year. (Laura Howells/CBC)

Frison says they are still processing registrations, but have counted more than 120 students so far.

Families “are worried about returning to school,” he said.

“There are families that have immune issues in their home … so they’re not prepared to send their kids into the traditional brick-and-mortar school.

Frison said there’s also slightly more families choosing traditional home-schooling this year, which does not involve online teachers.

Aurora Virtual School has three other teaching staff, plus the team lead. The school started in 2013, and Frison said enrolment has been growing every year since.

The Department of Education says enrolment numbers for each school, including Aurora Virtual School, are finalized by the end of September each year.

A spokesperson did not say whether Aurora Virtual School would receive more staffing this year, but said the department “adjust[s] staffing allocations as needs change.”

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: New body aims to create First Nations school board in Canada’s Yukon territory, CBC News

Finland: Finnish gov agrees to formation of Sámi Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Yle News

Norway: BBC lists Sami journalist Sara Wesslin among world’s 100 most influential women, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia removes critical voices ahead of Arctic Council chairmanship, claims Indigenous peoples expert, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Calls for more Indigenous protection in Sweden on Sami national day, Radio Sweden

United States: Indigenous leaders at UN meeting push for decade dedicated to language revitalization, CBC News

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