Dr Wheatley made the announcement in a statement on Tuesday as he warned of the dangers that could result if face-to-face classes were to resume in the immediate school term.
He said it will place administrators, teachers, support staff and children all at risk of possibly contracting COVID-19.
“Alarmingly, some of these cases are school-aged children. Equally concerning is the fact that these positive cases were socially active and frequented crowded festive social gatherings. In light of this extremely serious reality, I cannot in good conscience proceed with the plan to reopen schools to face to face instruction,” the minister stated.
He added: “I am aware of the fact that many are yearning for the return to the classroom, and I have received criticism from many who are advocating for opening the territory up, but we must prioritize the health of our children and our people above all other considerations.”
Dr Wheatley, who is also the Deputy Premier, further said classes for private schools in the territory will begin as early as Monday, August 31.
“We will be providing orientation and training specifically for the educators, parents, students and support staff members of these institutions. The sessions begin on 1st September 2020 with a focus on the online platforms, specifically, in the areas of Power School, the VIDE textbooks full usage and Google classroom for assessment, evaluations and lesson planning,” he explained.
The education minister also announced that classes for all public schools will commence from September 21 following a number of meetings with the various stakeholders.
“On 7th September, as minister, I will speak to all educators as I outline my strategic direction for the school year and declare the official school year opened. This will be followed by a Professional Day for educators. The rest of that week will be used for Professional Development Planning and Preparation for the new school year,” he stated.
Dr Wheatley also said the Ministry of Education will be conducting a Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and student orientation from September 14 to 18.