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Remote learning tool, thousands of laptops, tablets going to Nunavut schools

Nunavut schools have a new online learning platform to use in case of COVID-19 closures.

Education department launches online learning after feds promise $8M to reopen safely

Minister David Joanasie announces over $8 million in federal funding for a safe return to class. The Education department is buying laptops and launching an online remote learning platform for students, teachers and parents. (Beth Brown/CBC)

Nunavut schools have a new online learning platform to use in case of COVID-19 closures. 

It's called Edsby, an internet platform used nationally that works in the classroom and at home.

"We've secured this platform in case any school in the territory needs to revert to remote learning," Education Minister David Joanasie told reporters in the legislature Thursday. "We are very much more prepared compared to the springtime when the initial school closures happened."

The remote learning tool is for teachers, parents and students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Education staff are being trained to use it now.

"If a Nunavut school needs to be closed, this online platform will enable our teachers to provide lesson materials and a way to communicate with students and parents," Joanasie said in his minister's statement Thursday.

Families will need home internet to access the platform. But in Nunavut communities, internet is expensive and bandwidth limited, and not all households have it.

Joanasie said that's being taken into consideration.

"Plans are if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in a community that computers and iPads and laptops are deployed and it would include internet capabilities," he said.

Feds promise over $8 million for safe learning

Edsby was funded through Nunavut's Education department while the computers and tablets are coming from new federal funding.

Nunavut is getting over $8 million to keep students learning safely. With some of that money, the department is buying around 3,000 laptops and tablets. Over 700 tablets have already been purchased, Joanasie said.

Of the new funding, the Education department is receiving $2.6 million from the Canadian government's Safe Restart Agreement and $5.75 million from its Safe Return to Class Fund.

Half of the school funding is for this school semester. The department will report back to the federal government on how it's using it before next year.

With the money, more custodians are also being hired and trained. Joanasie has said previously that the department finds it difficult to keep custodian positions filled and many schools have seen shortages. 

The funding will also go toward cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated the online program Edsby was funded by the federal government. In fact, that program was funded through the Nunavut Department of Education.
    Oct 23, 2020 12:52 PM CT

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