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NU Government: COVID-19 Department of Education Services update

Press Release

With the funding provided by the Government of Canada’s Safe Restart Agreement, the Department of Education purchased 1600 digital devices for Nunavut schools in the event of school closures due to an active case of COVID-19 in a community. Of these 1600 purchased devices, 800 iPads have already been delivered to the department for formatting.1400 more devices will be ordered soon, thanks to funding from the Government of Canada’s Safe Return to Class fund.

The Department of Education is also ensuring that learning will continue even if schools are closed due to COVID-19, by testing the use of an online learning platform called Edsby. Edsby is a comprehensive digital learning system designed to support both in-class and remote learning. The easy-to-use interface, similar to social media sites, is intended for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, teachers, and parents. It can be accessed from almost any digital device such as a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone.

Finally, the Department of Education has secured additional cleaning and health and safety supplies so schools can continue to meet the enhanced cleaning standards and health and safety measures that came into effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department of Education Update – October 19, 2020

School action plans

  • All schools are developing an action plan for each stage of COVID-19 risk. Action plans for stages 2, 3, and 4 will focus on supporting remote instruction and alternatives to in-class learning
    • The Department of Education has provided guidelines and toolkits to support schools as they develop these action plans, which include:
      • A plan for a staff member to have daily contact with each student they have a relationship with.
      • How students will be supported if they do not have access to digital or computer technology at home, using alternatives such as telephone, radio, package delivery, etc.
      • Development of “ready to go” learning and well-being packages for each student, in case a community enters stages 2, 3, or 4.
      • Instruction and support for students on Individual Student Support Plans (ISSPs) will continue to be in place at all stages.
      • Details on how schools will operate during each stage, including fire drills, food programs, and administrator classroom visits.
    • Most schools have completed their action plans for stage 1 and are working on completing their stage 2, 3, and 4 action plans. Regional School Operations staff are working closely with school leaders to review and approve draft plans.
    • 21 out of 45 schools have completed and submitted final action plans for all stages.
    • Some schools have developed additional wellness support tools, for example Qiqirtaq High School in Gjoa Haven has a student wellness survey as part of their action plan.

Learning Packages

  • Learning packages have been developed for each student as part of the stage 1 action plan. These packages are adapted to fit the varied needs of each student.
  • Learning packages will be continually updated with new and revised material as students progress through the curriculum. These will be used, as needed, when a community moves from stage 1 to stage 2, 3, or 4.

Department of Education Update – October 8, 2020

On October 7, 2020, Minister Joanasie and the Government of Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Ahmed Hussen, announced additional support for early learning, childcare and schools in Nunavut (the Canada-Nunavut Early Learning and Child Care Bilateral Agreement ($2.4 million) and the Safe Restart Agreement ($2.6 million).

The Canada-Nunavut Early Learning and Child Care Bilateral Agreement will support and maintain access to affordable early learning and child care programs through operations funding, create child care spaces in underserved communities, promote training and professional development opportunities for early childhood educators, and develop teaching resources and programming materials in all of Nunavut’s official languages.

The Safe Restart Agreement will provide enhanced custodial training and supplies for child care facilities and K-12 schools across Nunavut, and be used to purchase laptops, tablets, and internet capacity to support remote learning on an as-needed basis if a community is at a higher risk for COVID-19.

Department of Education Update – July 27, 2020

On Friday, July 24, the Department of Education release the 2020-21 Opening Plan for Nunavut Schools: Health and Safety.

Because there are no confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, all schools will open, as scheduled, for the new school year, unless otherwise directed by Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO).

To see when your school opens and the Department of Education’s 2020-21 Opening Plan for Nunavut Schools, visit: https://gov.nu.ca/education/information/2020-21-opening-plan-nunavut-schools

Planning for 2020-21 School Year

  • All schools will open, as scheduled, for the new school year, unless otherwise directed by CPHO.
  • 4 stages have been developed to direct school operations depending on the impacts of COVID-19 in each community.
  • The CPHO will determine when a community moves from stage to stage.
  • For updates, check the Department of Education website and listen to GN press conferences.

Educators/School Staff

  • Educator recruitment is on track for the 2020-21 school year.
    • There are currently 30 open educator positions across the territory.
  • Teachers and school staff are not defined as critical workers and are required to follow the same isolation process as other Nunavummiut returning to the territory.
  • The department worked with the Department of Health to secure reservations in the hubs and return travel dates and ensure out of territory school staff could return for the start of the school year.

Health and Safety Restrictions

  • Health and safety restrictions are different in schools than everywhere else for several reasons:
    • It is critical to balance the risk of direct infection and transmission of COVID-19 in children with the harms of school closure on their physical and mental health.
    • Current evidence suggests that children may be less susceptible to COVID-19 infection and may be less likely to transmit the virus to others.
    • Schools are controlled environments, and any potential spread of the virus can be managed and tracked more easily.
  • The Department of Education, the CPHO, and DEAs/CSFN were involved in the development of the health and safety plans.
  • Cleaning will be enhanced in all schools, and custodians will receive guidelines and training.

Learning and Instruction

  • The focus in the first several months of school will be on learning recovery, assessment, and instruction.
  • School staff will receive guidelines and a toolkit for learning, instruction, and assessment, including information on remote instruction, and expectations for communicating with students.

Physical distancing and masks

  • Physical distancing requirements depend on the stage a community is in.
  • Adjusting the percentage of students in school will help support limited contact between students, as needed.
  • The department will work with schools and DEAs in Stages 2 and 3 regarding physical distancing requirements, including organizing students by cohort.
  • In general, the use of masks is not recommended for children.
    • At the discretion of the CPHO, there may be some instances where students should wear masks.
    • Some school staff may wear masks, if they are unable to physically distance when required by the CPHO.
  • School assemblies will be avoided so as not to mix classroom cohorts.

Department of Education Services, July 20, 2020

The Department of Education will be releasing the 2020-21 Opening Plan for Nunavut Schools at the end of July.

Keeping our staff and students safe is the Department of Education’s highest priority. By working closely with the Chief Public Health Officer, and providing clear guidelines around health and safety, the Department of Education can ensure that our students are learning in a safe, supportive environment.

Department of Education Services, July 13, 2020

Since March 17, when schools were closed to students, the Department of Education has been working diligently in preparation for the upcoming 2020-21 school year, specifically addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information on plans and guidelines for opening schools will be made available to the public as they are finalized. These will include detailed guidelines on health and safety, as well as recovery learning and assessment, and student and staff wellbeing.

The Department of Education will be releasing the first document of its school opening plan later this month, after it has been reviewed by the Chief Public Health Officer and the department has heard from education stakeholders.

Keeping our staff and students safe is the Department of Education’s highest priority. By working closely with the Chief Public Health Officer, and providing clear guidelines around health and safety, the Department of Education can ensure that our students are learning in a safe, supportive environment.

On Wednesday, July 15, David Joanasie, Minister of Education, and Dr. Michael Patterson, Chief Public Health Officer, will be teleconferencing with District Education Authorities, the Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut, and the Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities to discuss health and safety considerations related to the Department of Education’s school opening plan.

Department of Education Services, July 6, 2020

Since March 17, when schools were closed to students, the Department of Education has been working diligently in preparation for the upcoming 2020-21 school year, specifically addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information on plans and guidelines for opening schools will be made available to the public as they are finalized. These will include detailed guidelines on health and safety, as well as recovery learning and assessment, and student and staff wellbeing.

The Department of Education will be releasing the first document of its school opening plan later this month, after it has been reviewed by the Chief Public Health Officer and the department has heard from education stakeholders.

Keeping our staff and students safe is the Department of Education’s highest priority. By working closely with the Chief Public Health Officer, and providing clear guidelines around health and safety, the Department of Education can ensure that our students are learning in a safe, supportive environment.

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