Nunavut schools may reopen with no physical distancing if there’s no COVID-19 in territory, draft plan states

Four possible reopening scenarios outlined

Schools in Nunavut could reopen with enhanced cleaning procedures and no physical distancing this fall, a draft plan from the Department of Education states. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

A draft plan from Nunavut’s Education Department outlines four possible stages for schools reopening in the territory this fall.

Each stage in the draft plan, obtained by Nunatsiaq News, represents a different level of COVID-19 exposure and outlines how schools would operate depending on the impacts of COVID-19 in each community.

Stage one would go ahead if there is no COVID-19 in the community and no contact tracing to the community. All school staff would report to school. There would be enhanced cleaning, limited physical contact and limited group activities. Under stage one, physical distancing in schools is not necessary, the draft plan states.

As long as there is still no COVID-19 in the territory, all schools will open under stage one for the 2020-2021 school year, the draft plan states.

Stage two means there are no cases of COVID-19 in the community but contact tracing has identified potential contact between community members and another community. All school staff would report to school with physical distancing of one metre. There would be some remote instruction for middle and high school students. There would be enhanced cleaning, limited group activities, limited eating in common areas, no sharing food and staggered bus schedules.

There would also be no physical contact between students. Physical distancing of one metre could also be enforced for middle and high school students, at the discretion of the chief public health officer.

Stage three outlines a plan if a community is in recovery after one or more COVID-19 cases. This stage would occur 10-28 days after the last case of COVID-19 moves into recovery, the draft plan states.

Stage three also involves strict cleaning, strict physical distancing of two metres between students, no physical contact, no group activities and no eating in common areas. Bus schedules would also be staggered and meal programs would be reduced, adapted or eliminated.

All school staff would report to school with strict physical distancing of two metres. Some remote instruction would also be initiated under stage three, the draft plan states.

Stage four would occur if there is an active case of COVID-19 in the community. All schools in the community would close for a minimum of 14 days and reopen at the discretion of the chief public health officer. No school staff would report to school and remote instruction would be initiated for all students.

Under the draft plan, remote instruction would involve learning packages, “use of supplemental learning tools” for middle and high school students and “enhanced land-based instruction.”

All schools will receive health and safety guidelines, including enhanced cleaning protocols, guidelines for busing and instructions on what land-based instruction might look like at each stage, the draft plan states.

School staff will also receive “detailed guidelines on assessment of learning loss, learning recovery, and techniques for teaching in an at-home or blended learning environment,” the draft plan states.

Those guidelines will include: curricular outcomes to focus on during learning recovery, samples of assessment tools to identify learning loss, information on land-based instruction, tools to support student mental health during COVID-19 and more.

Under stages two to four, school staff will also be in regular contact with students.

Education minister responds to DEA letter accusing department of being an “information vacuum”

A letter dated July 2 from the Iqaluit District Education Authority to the Department of Education called the department’s communication on reopening plans for schools an “information vacuum.”

In the letter, the IDEA claims it was not “consulted or even informed” about plans for the reopening of the 2020-2021 school year.

According to the Department of Education, six teleconferences have been held with the DEAs since March 16. Reopening plans were discussed at several of the teleconferences, a department spokesperson said in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

Doug Workman, IDEA chair, said he felt those meetings didn’t offer “substantive information.”

“We’re elected by the community and we want them to know that we take their concerns seriously.… It’s been a challenge for the last five years. It is an information vacuum. We’re being told things. We don’t want to be told … we want to have the discussion. We want to build consensus,” Workman said.

Workman also said parents have raised concerns about students falling behind if school work is not assessed, should schools close again. When schools closed earlier this year, teachers provided learning packages for students to pick up and complete at home.

“For us, there’s been a lot of lost time. The work packages, the voluntary picking them up with no assessment, to me has been a failure.… It looked like maybe 25-30 per cent actually picked up the school work. That’s not a good number,” he said.

On June 22, in response to questions from reporters, Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said schools would reopen in the fall.

Parents have also raised questions about what social distancing would look like, especially in classes that are already at or over capacity, Workman said.

“What does that look like and how many students can we put in a classroom?” Workman said.

“The old normal is not the new normal. I know, from parents here in Iqaluit, that they don’t want to see us going back to the old normal. I’ve been told quite a few times from parents that if that’s the case, we’re not sending our kids,” Workman added.

In his reply to the IDEA’s letter on July 8, David Joanasie, Nunavut’s education minister, outlined steps taken since the school closures on March 17. Those steps include forming planning committees and working groups for reopening schools in the fall.

“In as much as I recognize that my department could have done a better job in communicating the planning process with the public, I ask that you help the department communicate to the community that we are working on a plan to address public concerns about reopening schools. We have been cautious about distributing any documents without input from the CPHO [chief public health officer] to ensure we are addressing the most up to date public health orders and guidelines,” Joanasie wrote.

The department declined Nunatsiaq News’ request for an interview and provided an emailed statement.

“The Department of Education recognizes it is imperative to consult with stakeholders, such as the CNDEA [Coalition of Nunavut DEAs], DEAs and CSFN [Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut], before finalizing any plans and sharing them with the public. Based on the status of this ongoing work, and the need to consult with the CPHO and stakeholders, we will have a document to share with the public by the end of July,” a spokesperson for the department wrote.

The department and Nunavut DEAs are scheduled to have another teleconference July 15.

Reopening Plan Health and S… by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

Reopening Plan Health and S… by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(20) Comments:

  1. Posted by Nervous for Nunavut on

    I do not think any school school should be operating at normal without a vaccine at this time. Nunavut has done a wonderful job at keeping Covid out of the territory. However, it can still easily happen. There will be an influx of people going into the territory over the next little while with the start of school. These people, though going through isolation, will still travel in airports with other travellers from all over the country and even from other countries. This is too risky for students and staff. Very disappointing.

  2. Posted by Colin on

    I think it’s a good practice to have some social distancing in schools, masks in the hallways and hand washing . Flu season coming up too.
    If we ever get cases here we will be prepared.

  3. Posted by nunalik on

    it’s been a waste of time and money since there is no single case in Nunavut

    • Posted by Total Waste on

      It’s been a total waste of time and money to change the oil in my truck every 6 months, too. Engine’s never even blown up.

  4. Posted by Joe on

    Enhanced cleaning? I almost spit my drink out. How about meeting prescribed cleaning standards? That would be a start.

  5. Posted by Consistency on

    No Physical contact at school… wow you mean when a kids is being bullied and hit the administrators will have to do something about it and keep the kids separated? and not just say ‘ah boys will be boys’.

    On a lighter serious note, Doug when you say “We’re elected by the community and we want them to know that we take their concerns seriously.…” why would the other higher elected officials that dont take us seriously be worried that we dont think you take us seriously?

  6. Posted by Concerned parent on

    I would really like to see more information being put out there, and soon. I have a child who is with his father down south for the summer and need to start making arrangements for mid August to pick him up, quarantine in the south and head back up. Is school on? Is it not? Do I keep him down there to get an education?

    Who do I contact to ask these questions to?

  7. Posted by Just me on

    I am so grateful. I notice though it’s not clearly stated, it looks as though they will cancel elementary school if there is a case in another region.

    I feel like the best defense is for our children to learn in a social setting the life saving importance of washing their hands and no close face to face contact.

    According to the training I’ve taken handwashing is the number 1 defense. Having this reinforced in the school setting to become habit forming will help me as a parent and save people the children live with who may be at risk.

    I’ve also learned TB is much more contagious than Coronavirus just in case anyone needs some perspective about risk factors, we never closed schools during TB epidemics.

    I question the percentage of children who have or live with someone at high risk and whether that is proportionate to cancelling education for all children. Would it be less of a strain on the systems resorces to provide at home learning support to only those children that require it?

    One of my children required special assistance throughout his school years before anyone jumps down my throat, as a parent I accepted that was what was needed.

    Wouldn’t mind knowing that ratio though. Information would help me accept the potential loss of education and explain it to my kids.

    100 per cent happy to send my kid back and even happier that ALL of her friends are going to be taught the same thing about distancing and handwashing so we can see it happening everywhere in every family.

  8. Posted by Pinocchio & little red riding hood band wagon Education on

    Keep lookout how EDUCATION SYSTEM are setup behind close doors in SCHOOL’s under the nose of EDUCATIONAL Regional Offices! You’ll may pretend NOT to NOTICE but more and more cultural programs not relevant to ACADEMIC LEARNING are incorporated in SCHOOL curriculum! This may be due to slacky TEACHER’s that carry old habit’s in school’s! Where in the end Gr. 12 Graduates are just given HIGH MARK’s exam’s i.e. 70%, 80%, or 90% when in reality it is actually at Gr. 6, 7 or 9 level in Nunavut! This is a major issue that continues on in Nunavut school system.

    Not very many students with Gr. 12 level do not enroll post-secondary EDUCATION!

  9. Posted by Joseph Kaviok on

    In The Gov’erment Sweet Dreams! While Canada is still Affected.No Way will I Let any Of My Children attend.Short and Simple.Get Real.look around before making rash and Foolish Decisions!

  10. Posted by Old trapper on

    Now is time for all teachers to say anything they want but I’m just happy school will start this fall👍

    • Posted by Old teacher on

      Well old trapper, here is the thing about education in Nunavut. If we dont go back in the fall in a traditinal format, we might as well walk away from southern education as we know it in the territory. The experiment of online and work package learning was a failure, but the time for familes to return to the traditional learning, or no learning was completely embraced. So, if parents want to use covid as a reason not to come back to school, start closing classes, stop giving grade ten to twelve courses to anyone that will not commit to the program, and close high schools with too small populations to sustain it. Release the kids to learn from home and their families after grade nine, but dont create southern style learning programs for anyone but the one or two potential academic graduates. Let the north teach the north. Covid has shown how completely disconnected the people are from the system. Defund education and let the people go.

  11. Posted by Concerned parent on

    The cleaning of schools really worry me. For the last 4 years my kids have refused to use the washrooms at school.

  12. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    By the time it is known there is a case in community it’ll have infected potentially the entire community.

    Schooling should be done from home, online, over a social media platform maybe , work for the week to printed and handed out by teachers or picked up by parents, student participation to be monitored by parents.

    • Posted by Same old teacher on

      You may live in the Arctic,, but you sure don’t have kids in the system. We just tried that, no one did them, no meaningful learning based on southern school learning happened. Which is fine, unless you expect it, which most people don’t. But, kids got out on the land, saw their family every day, and who is to complain about that. On line, package learning did not work, at all. Anywhere. If we shut down again, just close the schools and walk away.

      • Posted by I live in the Arctic on

        Then the committee’s ain’t doing the jobs they were elected for, they need canvas the community by radio, facebook, or whatever, what does the community want, ain’t the childcare money based on school attendance no more?

        • Posted by Still the same old teacher on

          And if the community wants the school closed, like in Apex in March, without any strong reason why then the closure should extend to the west, do we close it? If people say, no, we want on line learning like a number on this site mention, do we do it, and say, oh, dont bother sending it back? Or, if you dont have your child do it, we get to fail them this time, or at least not continue them on? Parents were telling the teachers to stop calling it was annoying, funding is not connected to school attendance, hasnt been for 20 years or so. Parents are not engaging in the value o southern schools. What the kids have is good enough. Defund education and let the people go.

          • Posted by I live in the Arctic on

            The committees need to support teachers more, get on the facebook, radio, unsupported it’ll be very hard to try and teach students who want to attend, fortunately online teaching can be done from anywhere.

  13. Posted by Harry on

    Schools are hotbed for germs, if we ever get the virus up here these schools would help spread it very fast, I hope even with no cases in Nunavut that social distancing will be used, part of learning for the kids and good practice.

    • Posted by northerner brfore on

      you fool, people need people. what a thing to say to people, get used to staying away from cousins, siblings, and friends. now i will be called crazy and dangerous for my comment, but if it is not censored the majority of people know i am right. that this is a scam. it is fear mongering method of social control. separate and conquer. fools to spread propaganda are the dangerous ones

      btw, schools are a hotbead for germs, the hs janitors up there are lazy for the most part, first thiing i woulld do is clean all the desks on my days. people need people. today i saw birds in pairs at the pet store in boxes with glass windows. never before made me feel so sad. as animal rights increase it makes people treat eachother more like animals instead of humans. we were put on this earth to be kings, not animals

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