Some Nunavut daycares have reopened, announced Education minister Pamela Gross at a Government of Nunavut Covid-19 update on Jan. 11, and the department is “exploring the possibility of monetary incentives for the facilities and their staff” willing to reopen as critical services are threatened.

Last week Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok asked day care centres to reopen for critical workers who are struggling to balance work and care of their children at the same time.

“I would like to thank those facilities who reached out to my department and have reopened and accepted children,” said Gross. “We understand there is some fear and concern about the safety of staff and children.”

Unless directed otherwise, staff are expected to return to Nunavut’s schools on Jan. 17 to provide remote instruction and to prepare for the return of students on Jan. 24, whether through take-home packages or online learning.

Schools will also be provided with medical grade masks, Gross adds.

January diploma exams for Nunavut students have also been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This applies only to the Jan. 2022 exams.

Students who will be missing this month’s exams will receive an exemption and school marks will stand for 100 per cent.

Masks and test kits

Rapid test kits and N95 masks are on the way, said Akeeagok.

“These rapid tests will provide another tool for managing outbreaks in our communities,” he said.

Other plans to deal with this latest wave of Covid-19 are also being developed on the departmental level, Akeeagok went on to add.

“Last week I held an urgent meeting with members of our cabinet to discuss each department’s plans for managing emergency Covid-19 initiatives”, to provide more support to Nunavummiut. These initiatives will be coming soon, said the Premier.

The territory continues to need more critical workers, particularly on the testing front, said the premier.

“Nunavut continues to need help on the human resource front. Especially nurses and lab technicians,” Akeeagok said.

Nunavut’s chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson later confirmed five lab technicians quit their jobs in late November and early December.

Nunavut’s hospitalization rate from Covid-19 remains at six.

Arviat Elders assisted living facility impacted

Six staff members at the Arviat Elders facility have also been diagnosed positive for Covid-19.

“None of the Elders have been identified as high-risk contacts nor have any tested positive for Covid-19,” said Health minister John Main, who added the diagnoses have not affected services at the facility. “We have a number of casual staff who cover shifts at the Elders home in Arviat.”

As it is an assisted living facility, residents are relatively more independent compared to normal seniors facilities and none of the Elders are considered high-risk contacts.

Additional remote support services have been utilized by the Department of Health on the Covid-hotline and contact tracing fronts, staff have also been redeployed to assist in case monitoring.

“These actions were needed for Health to continue delivering an effective Covid response while still offering other essential health services,” said Main, who went on to praise Nunavut’s healthcare workers.

“You have all done us proud.”

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