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Nunavut teachers return to school to develop learning packages

Sanikiluaq's Paatsaali School, which opened in the 2011-2012 school year, is one of six Nunavut schools for which the Government of Nunavut would have to pay full replacement value if it were destroyed because it's not worth more than the GN's $20 million deductible. Qarmatalik School in Resolute, Umimmak School in Grise Fiord, Nanook School in Apex, Ecole Des Trois Soleils in Iqaluit and Victor Sammurtok School in Chesterfield Inlet are the others valued at less than $20 million. photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut
Since March 17, 2020 Sanikiluaq's Paatsaali School and all other schools in Nunavut have been closed due to COVID-19 concerns. All teachers are now expected to return back to school on April 21 regardless of whether the schools remain closed or re-open. Nunavut's chief public health officer will decide on April 21 whether schools continue to remain closed due to COVID-19 fears. photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

Correction: This version of the story has been updated to reflect that the 93 Nunavut teachers are presently outside the territory. The previous version of the story, due to inaccurate information provided by the Department of Education, contained an error.

Nunavut teachers are permitted, on a voluntary basis, to enter schools in order to start developing learning packages for students since yesterday.

The schools are not accessible to students. Only up to ten staff members can access the school at a time. While at the school, all staff must adhere to the physical distancing recommendations made by Dr. Michael Patterson.

“The primary objective is to put in place some continuity of learning plans and packages for students,” said Minister of Education David Joanaise.

Since March 17, all schools in the territory have been closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

On March 31, the Department of Education launched a website for students to continue learning while remaining at home. However recognizing that not all homes have internet access or computers, the school staff is now aiming to develop paper based continuity of learning packages. This requires teachers to access resources at schools.

All school staff are expected to return to work on April 21, 2020.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Joanaise revealed that 93 Nunavut teachers are presently out of the territory. This is about eight percent of all school staff in Nunavut.

Joanaise said, these teachers were advised on whether or not they should travel outside the territory amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately however, the decision was left to the teachers, he said.

Now, all these teachers must undergo a mandatory 14 self-isolation period in the south before returning to Nunavut.

The Department of Education is currently working on bringing back the teachers from outside the territory while taking into the account this required self-isolation period.

Teachers who cannot return by April 21 are advised to contact their principal.

On April 21, Dr. Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer will announce whether schools will remain closed. If schools remain closed, teachers are expected to resume operations and develop continuity of learning plans for all students. Alternatively, if schools open, operations will resume as normal.

Regardless of Dr. Patterson’s decision, departmental exams for high school students have been cancelled until the end of June.

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