Nunavut schools, daycares to stay closed until April 20

Schools and daycares in Nunavut will remain closed for two weeks longer, the Department of Education announced Tuesday. 

Education minister encourages the use of online learning at home

Plans for keeping or cancelling the school year are in limbo while Nunavut waits to see what happens with COVID-19, Education Minister David Joanasie said Tuesday. (Beth Brown/CBC )

Schools and daycare centres in Nunavut will remain closed until April 20, the Department of Education announced Tuesday.

This is a two-week extension of a previous three-week closure that started on March 17, as recommended by Nunavut's chief public health officer because of concerns related to COVID-19. 

For now, the territorial government is not ready to cancel the entire school year.

Education Minister David Joanasie said he'll have a better idea at the end of this extension of what the plan will be for schools, and, if classes are cancelled, what the plan would be for grades — whether or not students would be held back or pushed forward to the next grade.

"Wait for another two weeks and we may have a definitive answer at that time whether schools will continue to stay closed," Joanasie said. "It's hard to say — it's a day-by-day, week-by-week, it's changing rapidly." 

In Iqaluit, there was to be no classes for these weeks anyway, due to staff training and spring break.

The Iqaluit District Education Authority says classes will resume on April 21 as planned, unless the department gives other directions.

Right now, Joanasie says his department is looking at ways to make sure high school students still get their grades. 

"We're still trying to determine how to support their learning needs so they're on track for graduation," he said.  

The department is not passing out take-home work for students right now. But to help with at-home learning, it has a new website geared toward younger ages. 

Students and families can visit for Inuktut e-books and language tools for talking and writing. This website includes work used in Nunavut schools for Inuktut-language education. It also has tools for stress management and mental health. 

The department is working to make Inuktut learning options available first. 

"I know it has not been easy. We must all do our part. My department has been working hard to make this website available," said Joanasie.

Nunavummiut watching CBC's live stream of the government's daily press conference on Facebook wanted to know what would be offered to students and parents with limited access to a computer or internet, or couldn't print off practice sheets.

"The aim is that all students have access to learning materials, whether it's electronic or paper-based," Joanasie said. "We're looking at ways to meet those needs."