Keep schools closed, teachers home, says Nunavut Association of Municipalities
“Our communities don’t want schools to reopen until September”
Nunavut schools should stay closed until September, and teachers now outside the territory should stay there, says the Nunavut Association of Municipalities in a news release.
At a special board meeting held yesterday, NAM board members passed a motion asking the Government of Nunavut “to not order teachers back to Nunavut or to work at this time and that Nunavut schools not be re-opened until the beginning of the school year.”
The NAM board said it passed the resolution to support the decision by Nunavut’s chief public health officer to close the schools and “clarify the wishes of the mayors of Nunavut’s municipalities.”
The NAM sent the resolution to Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, Premier Joe Savikataaq, Education Minister David Joanasie and John Fanjoy, president of the Nunavut Teachers’ Association.
“Although the NAM executive board has made it very clear that our communities don’t want schools to reopen until September due to the COVID-19 threat, we also wanted to point out that we support teachers throughout Nunavut and we look forward to them returning when it is safe to do so,” the news release said.
“Teachers wanting to return to Nunavut as residents are required to abide by the Government of Nunavut’s mandatory 14-day quarantine and we support that process.”
In its release, the NAM repeated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s advice to Canadians, that they “stay home, only go outside when necessary and stay two metres apart.”
“NAM supports the measures announced by the authorities and in accordance with the directives announced, encourages all Nunavummiut to comply and do their part to maintain social and physical distancing, staying at home and keeping their communities safe and well,” the NAM release said.
Then, on April 7, the GN asked out-of-territory teachers to return by April 21—a decision that continues to be debated by many.
According to John Fanjoy, the Nunavut Teachers’ Association president, “there are currently around 20 teachers in the GN’s isolation sites, and more teachers who are making travel arrangements to return, but due to staggered flight schedules in the south and provincial restrictions are delayed.”
Fanjoy said there are also teachers who have asked to work remotely and are waiting for a response from their regional school operations.
“I made every attempt to make travel plans to try to return as per the mandate of April 7. However, I am on a regional lockdown and cannot even leave my area. I have been guided and supported by the NTA to request working with my students remotely,” a teacher told Nunatsiaq News on Tuesday night, adding that the NAM motion encouraged her.
Meanwhile, an online petition, addressed to Nunavut’s mayors and councillors, continues to gather support.
The petition says signatories are disappointed by the GN’s decision to call back teachers who were outside the territory when its borders were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the petition was launched on April 10, it has garnered more than 2,500 signatories and is now seeking 5,000.
The decision to bring the teachers back has also been criticized by the NTA, which says the GN should close the territory’s schools for the rest of the school year in response to COVID-19.