Arson charges have been laid against three youths after the high school in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, burned to the ground Sunday.

The youths aged between 13 and 16 were arrested by Nunavut RCMP after a criminal investigation determined the fire at Peter Pitseolak High School was deliberately set, a police news release said.

The teens have been charged with arson with damage to property and arson with disregard for human life. 

The school fire Sunday forced the evacuation of a nearby health centre and several houses, and also knocked out power to the hamlet for about an hour. A daycare located in the high school building was also lost in the fire.

Police said fire investigators and V Division's major crime unit are assisting the Cape Dorset detachment in the continuing investigation.

Classes to resume Thursday

There will be no classes for Peter Pitseolak students Tuesday and Wednesday while classes continue as usual at Sam Pudlat elementary school.

Starting Thursday, elementary and secondary students will share Sam Pudlat School on a split schedule. Elementary students will take classes from 8 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. and high school classes will be held from 1 p.m. to 5:10 p.m.

High school students will use supplies already at Sam Pudlat School, while the education department prepares to fly in additional supplies, textbooks and workbooks to Cape Dorset.

"I feel for all the students that were looking forward to another new school year," said Nunavut Education Minister Paul Quassa.

He added he was "saddened that so much resource was lost in that school, being the first school to be built in Cape Dorset."

Officials said they are working with the community and the Department of Community and Government Services to explore other options for providing classes to Peter Pitseolak students in the long term.

Rebuilding the school could take up to three years, according to Quassa, and cost millions of dollars, which should be covered by the insurance.

Quassa and Education Deputy Minister Kathy Okpik are planning to fly to Cape Dorset on Tuesday. They are scheduled to meet with the local District Education Authority Tuesday evening and with parents of students at both schools on Wednesday.