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Nunavut schools closed to students for rest of school year

During a press conference Friday, Education Minister David Joanasie said learning will continue and teachers are expected to continue on with their lessons and provide a final report card, despite these closures. 

Teachers to report to work April 21 — with flexibility — and exams cancelled

Nunavut's Education Minister David Joanasie at a press conference on Friday. Joanasie said learning will continue and teachers are expected to continue on with their lessons and provide a final report card, despite these closures. (Beth Brown/CBC)

Nunavut's Education Minister David Joanasie announced Friday during a news conference that schools in the territory are closed to students for the rest of the school year due to COVID-19.

"The well-being and success of Nunavut's children and youth is the top priority of the Nunavut Department of Education," said Joanasie.

He said learning will continue and teachers are expected to continue on with their lessons and provide a final report card, despite these closures. 

Report cards would be based off assessments from September until March, prior to the schools being suspended, said Joanasie.

Teachers are expected to report for work on April 21, though Joanasie said there will be flexibility and some staff will be able to work remotely.

"Nunavut school staff are vital to ensuring our students do not fall behind in their education."

Along with creating learning packages and preparing year-end report cards, teachers are also being asked to check in with families on a weekly basis to "see how they are progressing and if they need any extra support or resources."

Exams cancelled, 'learning packages' developed

The territory's Department of Education has developed guidelines to help school staff prepare "learning packages" to meet the specific needs of their students, said Joanasie. 

Given technology limitations in the territory, especially in smaller communities, he said that these packages will come in different mediums — "some will be paper-based, some will be activity-based, and some will be electronic." How these packages will be distributed will vary from school to school.

For families who are currently on the land who might not be able to receive these packages, he said activities on the land such as hunting and fishing "compliment student learning" and are encouraged by the department.

In addition, "departmental exams" are cancelled for high school students, said Joanasie.

"High school diploma exams for this year are cancelled. High school marks will be based on coursework only," said Joanasie.

He said the department wants to work with teachers to help Grade 12 students who are on track to graduate to complete their diploma "when eligible."

Previously, schools and daycare centres in Nunavut were told by the Department of Education to remain closed until April 20.

Missed the news conference? You can watch it here.

Nunavut government reduces news conference updates

This week, the government of Nunavut reduced its regular news conference updates to three times a week, as no cases of COVID-19 are reported in the territory. 

Ongoing test numbers are reported on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

As of Friday, 430 have been tested and there are still 231 people under investigation for COVID-19 in Nunavut. So far, 199 people have tested negative.

On Thursday, officials extended the territory's public health emergency until April 30.  

Nunavut's chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson said diagnostics are the territory's largest challenge as it works to respond to the pandemic.  

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