Cape Dorset residents concerned over new class schedules
Elementary students start early - at 7:30 a.m. - while high school students finish late - at 7:30 p.m.
Students who attended the Cape Dorset high school that burned down last fall are now feeling the stress of long classroom hours, according to South Baffin MLA David Joanasie, who is worried some students may simply cut classes.
"I think it's a concern that the community wants addressed," Joanasie said. "It's putting a lot of strain on families, just the daily routine."
When Peter Pitseolak High School was destroyed after an alleged act of arson, students began splitting time at Sam Pudlat Elementary School. The younger kids started early and finished at lunch; the older kids started in the afternoon and finished around dinner time.
When the new semester started in February, those class times were lengthened to ensure every student got enough daily hours of instruction — as mandated by the territory's Education Act.
Late hours may leave students drained
"Imagine going to classes for that amount of time. You go home and you're beat," he said.
"There's not much time for both students and staff to participate in social activities outside the school."
Joanasie also noted the elementary student early start time, meaning that families with children in both age groups have students at school from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m..
"I hope it doesn't affect student attendance," he said. "At the same time I think it would be a tough schedule to uphold for any one person - students, teacher, staff."
Education Minister Paul Quassa says his department is monitoring attendance levels, but did not have the numbers available when he was questioned in the Nunavut Legislative Asseembly Wednesday.
Education Minister responds to concerns
Joanasie says he and Quassa received a letter from the local district education authority earlier this month, expressing concern over the lengthened hours and asking for a meeting.
In question period, Joanasie urged Quassa to consider coming up with a compromise, which would shorten school hours.
He also urged Quassa to commit to a meeting with local educators.
While Quassa did not make any commitments to change the hours, he did say he would meet with the local DEA officials via video conference as soon as possible.
New school still set to reopen in 2019
The department of education's tender to design, ship and build modular classrooms to Cape Dorset closed Monday.
Quassa says the modular classrooms should hold all of 115 displaced students and teachers.
A new $34-million high school is expected to be built and ready for students in 2019.