Nunavik’s schools are open, but school board faces staffing shortages
“It’s something we haven’t experienced before. We’re preparing as we go”
Starting next week, all of Nunavik’s elementary and secondary schools will have opened their doors to students.
Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s 17 schools saw staggered openings through the month of September, as Nunavik students returned to class for the first time since March.
Isummasaqvik school in Quaqtaq will be the last school in the region to open its doors next week, delayed by construction work to replace the building’s heating systems this past summer.
But staffing shortages continue to hamper some school operations and have since forced another school to close. Tukisiniarvik school in Akulivik initially opened and then closed on Sept. 25, when the school couldn’t secure enough teachers, janitors, bus drivers and other support staff.
“We haven’t finished recruiting yet,” said Kativik Ilisarniliriniq Director General Harriet Keleutak. “We’ve reached out to the [Akulivik] mayor to see how the Northern Village can help out.”
“And we really need janitors—that’s been our biggest challenge,” she said. “If the schools are not clean, we close them.”
As of the beginning of October, the KI has nine vacant teaching positions, nine vacant Inuktitut-teaching positions and a number of vacant essential positions, such as janitors, secretaries or bus drivers, “in almost every community,” Keleutak said.
Job openings are posted locally and interested applicants can inquire at schools for more information, she said.
More important, Keleutak said Nunavik’s schools have no active COVID-19 cases. She said the school year has progressed smoothly so far, as staff and students adapt to new measures.
“It’s something we haven’t experienced before,” Keleutak said. “We’re preparing as we go.”
All students are required to wear masks indoors in common areas of the school, as well as in any space where students and staff can’t keep a two-metre distance from each other.
While many other school boards offer a virtual learning option for students, KI is still working out details of how to deliver that, if needed.
Only one student in the entire region is studying from home—with support from KI—due to a medical condition.
The school board is in the process of surveying Nunavik families to determine which households have access to a computer or internet, should the need arise for an entire school community to move to an online model.
That’s another challenge, Keleutak said, because most Nunavik households wouldn’t have enough devices for all school-aged children in a given home to use during the day.
The school board has started to purchase computers for some of its secondary and post-secondary students, and plans to deliver online-specific teacher training in the weeks to come.
“We’re in the process of trying to adapt,” Keleutak said. “Stay patient.”
KI’s Adult Education offering programs via Moodle this year
Another KI sector has successfully moved its learning online, with the launch last week of Moodle for its adult education programs.
The online platform, used at a number of post-secondary institutions across the country, allows students to access documents and interact with students and instructors. Students enrolled in any of KI’s six adult education centres are provided with a laptop.
Moodle also offers a feature that allows students to download their courses at those centres, so curriculum can be accessed at home, offline, with the addition of teacher support by phone.
“Nunavimmiut who register in general education courses often choose the adult sector because they are juggling work and family obligations,” said Mamadou Diop, KI’s interim director of adult education and vocational training.
“They need flexibility in terms of when they can do their learning. Moodle is going to make a big difference in helping them reach their goals.”
You can apply for adult education programs here.