FOR RELEASE – August 20, 2020
Advocate finds that issues for children and youth have been amplified by COVID-19 pandemic
On August 20th most students across the Yukon are returning to school for the 2020/21 school year. The return is guided by an updated return plan provided by Education Minister Tracey-Anne McPhee on August 12th. The plan offers guidance on operational issues including student learning, masks, hygiene and health requirements, and transportation. Each school also has an individualized operational plan to suit the needs of their students.
“We are wondering what issues this school year will bring,” states Annette King, Yukon Child and Youth Advocate. “The COVID-19 situation is creating new obstacles families haven’t experienced before, and it is intensifying problems that already exist”.
A proportion of the YCAO’s work focuses on educational issues including safety in school, behavioural and educational supports, and attendance. To date, YCAO has dealt with 217 education issues and currently has 74 open education issues that require a resolution. Many of these issues have arisen in the past year.
YCAO has been conducting an independent review of the barriers to school attendance in the territory for the past year. “Inconsistent school attendance has been a widespread problem in this territory,” says King. “There are numerous children who are not adequately accessing their right to an education. Is the situation for these children going to get even worse?”
In the Advocate’s discussions with children, parents, First Nations, professionals and educators, it is clear that there is a shared vision to improve education for children and youth. How will education plans be implemented? How will anxieties be addressed? What will the response be to new issues as they arise, and how can the solutions take pre-existing advocacy issues into account as well?
“The social impacts of the pandemic can have lasting impacts on how children develop,” says King. “The manner in which adults translate their own stress, and constant state of uncertainty, directly relates to how children will cope. Everyone will need to continually adapt to this new reality and put the needs and rights of the children in the forefront of decisions being made about them. We want to encourage everyone to continue to reach out and get the support they need. We want to hear what is working and what isn’t.”
If you would like to share your experience in the Yukon, you can contact the Child & Youth Advocate Office at (867) 456-5575, at firstname.lastname@example.org or through any of their social media platforms.
The Child & Youth Advocate Office is an independent office of the Legislative Assembly. The operations of the office are guided by the Child and Youth Advocate Act. Children, youth or others concerned about a child or youth receiving services within Yukon Government can contact the Child and Youth Advocate Office at (867) 456-5575.
Intake and Communications Coordinator
Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office