The lack of information about the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 school year prompted Iqaluit District Education Authority chair Doug Workman to send a sharply-worded letter to Education Minister David Joanasie on Thursday.
Workman stated that the community and the DEA share “dire concerns” and frustration over the lack of information flowing to the DEA.
“Your department seems to think that both the educators and the district education authorities do not need information regarding the department’s plans for reopening of the schools,” Workman wrote in his correspondence, which is Cc’d to several media outlets. “In the IDEA board meeting with principals this week, we discovered that there were no alternate plans given to the administrators of the four schools that IDEA manages either. Their understanding is that schools would be reopening just as ‘normal.’”
Workman expressed concerns over the department’s apparent lack of plans to supply personal protective equipment or extra sanitization supplies to schools.
He noted that one school is using its own operations budget to order 1,000 masks for students, additional masks for staff and some sanitization equipment.
He also criticized the department for failing to address whether lessons could be effectively taught if schools are forced to halve class sizes to meet social distancing requirements. As well, the IDEA inquired about the status of electronics for students and access to the internet if it’s necessary for them to do some learning from home.
Workman stated that input from the IDEA was submitted six weeks earlier but there’s been no response from the department.
“It appears as though the IDEA and the school administrators are left in an information vacuum about what the plans are regarding safety measures,” Workman wrote in his three-page letter to the education minister. “We must be involved in the development of alternative schooling plans and how to best prepare to implement those plans in a seamless way, if possible… based on this lack of collaboration, we are not prepared for the return of students to classes in September 2020… not by a long shot.”
Nunavut News has requested a response from the Department of Education.