JK-12 schooling during the pandemic

Reopening NWT schools for 2022-23 school year

As the Public Health Orders in the Northwest Territories (NWT) have ended, the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) is providing general guidance to communities, which includes schools, related to the COVID-19 pandemic public health measures. These are not mandatory requirements.

During the 2022-23 school year, it is important to prioritize maintaining the health and safety of students, staff and communities. It will be at the discretion of NWT education bodies to implement any additional safety protocols in their schools, such as wearing masks, classroom bubbling, restricting visitors and/or serving communal food.

Healthy habits learned during the pandemic

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) is encouraging school staff, students and families to promote healthy habits this school year and beyond, staying home if you’re sick, wearing a mask if you want to, regular handwashing, sanitizing high-touch surfaces, and giving people space if they ask for it.

Safe indoor air is also a priority in NWT schools, and ECE is working with the Department of Infrastructure (INF) and Procurement Shared Services to purchase indoor air purifier units for schools through funding from the federal government.

In the meantime, enhanced HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system protocols are still in place in NWT schools, which includes maximizing the amount of outside air in the ventilation system (within heating system capacity), upgraded filters and an extended run time.

Counselling services

For students

Parents and guardians can support their child(ren)’s mental health by taking time to listen to and validate their concerns and feelings, and by having conversations around how they feel, especially about changes caused by the pandemic.

Mental wellness counselling services will continue to be available to students either in-person or through virtual care technology and telephone services. All students are eligible to access counselling services. Virtual workshops and resources for education staff are available and contact information for counselling support is available through NWT schools.

  • Child and Youth Care Counsellors are available through schools.
  • BreathingRoom is a newly launched e-mental health program for youth aged 13-24. It supports youth and young adults in learning new ways to manage stress, depression and anxiety, as well as strengthening their existing coping skills. NWT youth can access this program at https://app.breathingroom.me/register?code=XXQTGPUE(link is external)
  • NWT Help Line – available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is 100% free, confidential and anonymous. Call 1-800-661-0844.
  • Kid’s Help Phone – young people needing to talk to someone can call the Kid’s Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or go to www.kidshelpphone.ca(link is external)
  • The NWT Community Counselling Program – is available free-of-charge to every NWT resident, in every region of the NWT. It helps people deal with a variety of issues, including family violence, mental health issues and addictions.
For staff

The Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is a confidential, voluntary counselling and referral service available to GNWT employees and their dependants. The program is designed to help with personal or work-related issues before they become more serious.

Additional supports are available through Starling Minds, a digital Cognitive Behavioural Therapy platform that is available to all education staff. It provides comprehensive mental health support to increase mental fitness, develop a return to health program and prevent and reduce stressors.  Staff can contact the NWT Teachers’ Association for more information and for their account logins.

Lifespeak is a digital total wellbeing platform that is available to all GNWT employees and their families. It provides confidential access to expert information and videos on a wide range of topics. GNWT staff can get more information from the COVID-19 section of the My HR website.