Nunavut schools closed to students for the rest of the year
Teachers to provide individualized learning packages and remote support
Schools across Nunavut will remain closed for the rest of the school year, Minister of Education David Joanasie announced on Friday, April 17, in Iqaluit.
Teachers will return to schools on April 21 to prepare learning packages for their students, and to assess course work done up until March 17, when the Government of Nunavut closed schools across the territory.
Joanasie said he understands families who are out on the land will not be able to receive learning packages. “On-the-land activities like hunting and fishing complement student learning,” he said, “and the department encourages these activities.”
Students will not be given grades based on work done at home between March 17 and the end of the school year. Learning packages will focus on supporting literacy and numeracy for students up to Grade 9.
Teachers and administrators will evaluate the individual situations of high school students in Grade 10 and higher, Joanasie said.
Final exams for high-school students are cancelled, and some students may have already acquired the credits they need to graduate.
If they haven’t, these students may need to complete specific courses to be eligible to graduate.
“Teachers may provide opportunities for students to upgrade their marks or earn the credits they need by completing suggested assignments and projects,” Joanasie said.
He also said that teachers will do individual check-ins with families once a week by text, email, phone or “other online portals.”
Recognizing the difficulty that many Nunavummiut have in accessing the internet, Joanasie said that learning packages will be paper-based, activity-based, as well as electronic.
Along with creating learning packages and checking in with students, it is imperative for teachers to return to their classrooms this week in order to assess work that students completed before the schools were shut down, Joanasie said.
Not all teachers will not be able to return to their classrooms. When schools shut down in March, up to 93 teachers left Nunavut, and the department has called on them to return.
Joanasie said in some cases, “circumstances prevent teachers from returning.”
These teachers can work remotely to complete learning packages, do assessments and support their students. However, Joanasie said teachers need a “variety of material” to complete assessments that is only available in the classroom, which is why the department wants teachers to return if they are able.
Teachers will also be looking ahead to prepare for the 2020-21 school year, Joanasie said.
Teachers can return to their schools throughout the day on a staggered schedule, Joanasie said, to ensure they are able to practise physical distancing from each other while on site.
Joanasie said that the ministers of education from provinces and territories across the country are participating in by-weekly conference calls to share best practices. He acknowledges that school closures are tough on students and parents who now have to take on the role of teachers at home, but said that the safety of everyone is the top priority.