All Nunavut schools open at full capacity for first time since Omicron wave hit

Kugluktuk’s health restrictions remained in place as other communities saw rules lifted on Monday

High school in Kugluktuk, Nunavut

Despite restrictions easing everywhere in Nunavut except in Kugluktuk on Monday, the community’s school is still open at full capacity, making March 14 the first day all the territory’s schools have been cleared to operate at 100 per cent capacity since the Omicron wave of COVID-19 hit the territory. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Nunatsiaq News

All Nunavut students were permitted to attend classes in person on Monday for the first time since the Omicron wave of COVIDC-19 began in December.

The schools in Gjoa Haven and Taloyoak, the last two last two communities where schools had not opened at 100 per cent capacity, were cleared to open up for in-person instruction on Monday.

“The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Gjoa Haven and Taloyoak continues to improve, and it is safe for schools to open to full capacity,” Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, said in a news release on Friday.

Nunavut’s education minister, Pamela Gross, said “I want to assure parents and students of Gjoa Haven and Taloyoak that their schools are following strict health and safety protocols so that students can return to class as safely as possible,” in the news release.

Since the Omicron wave hit Nunavut, only 23 per cent of students have been attending class on average, according to figures Education Minister Pamela Gross reported in the legislature last week.

Last week, Patterson announced public health restrictions were set to ease across Nunavut in the coming weeks, with the first changes in place Monday.

But, rules did not ease up for Kugluktuk residents on Monday after all, because of “undue strain” on the community’s health system due to COVID-19, Patterson said.

“We will monitor the situation and reassess easing restrictions in Kugluktuk once we are confident it will not negatively affect health care capacity,” he said in a news release on Thursday.

Restrictions started to ease across the territory on Monday and are scheduled to end on April 11, although Patterson said this depends on how COVID-19 outbreaks in each community progress.

On Monday, restrictions eased in all other communities.

In Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, Igloolik and Kugaaruk,  50 people are allowed at outdoor gatherings and10 people plus household members are allowed at indoor gatherings.

Restaurants can open to 25 per cent capacity or 25 people, whichever is less, with no singing allowed. Places of worship can open to 50 people, or 25 per cent capacity, also with no singing allowed.

In all other communities — except Kugluktuk — indoor gatherings in homes increased to allow 15 people plus household members to attend, outdoor gatherings can have 100 people and public indoor gatherings host 50 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.

In Kugluktuk, indoor gatherings in homes are limited to 10 people plus household members, public indoor gatherings are limited to 25 people or 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity, and outdoor gatherings can host 50 people.

Restaurants and bars can open at 25 people capacity or 25 per cent in Kugluktuk, with no singing or dancing allowed.

The gym capacity is 25 people or 50 per cent capacity, with the same limitations in place for libraries, museums, and galleries.

The area can have 50 people in it, or 50 per cent capacity, with no more than 50 spectators allowed. Team sports are allowed.

Churches are limited to 50 people or 25 per cent capacity, with no singing allowed.

Masks are still mandatory across Nunavut.

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