Hay River schools began the transition to remote learning this week following public health recommendations from the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.

The Hay River District Education Authority stated in a Jan. 7 news release that because of rapidly increasing cases of Covid and recommendations from CPHO Dr. Kami Kandola for schools in northern communities to shift to online classrooms where students will learn from home, Harry Camsell, Princess Alexandra and Diamond Jenness Secondary Schools would be teaching online starting Jan. 10.

“The Hay River DEA recognizes that families will be eager to learn the details around remote learning for students,” said Mark Harris, Hay River DEA chair. “Our schools administration is in regular contact with the Department of Education, Culture and Employment via the South Slave Divisional Education Council to ensure that all necessary steps are followed to keep our students and staff safe and to provide additional resources, such as technology, to support the continuity of learning for our students.“

Dr. Deborah Reid, principal at the Chief Sunrise Education Centre, said her school is going through the same pivot to remote learning. Her school’s staff had been ready to start on Jan. 4 with teacher-only days before welcoming 60 students back for in-person learning. However due to the changing nature of Covid, staff were asked to isolate for three days and recommendations came on Jan. 7 from both her superintendent and district education authority, a closure was recommended until at least Jan. 21.

“So every school is doing their own version of remote learning depending on accessibility to technology and whether that works in their community or not,” she said.

“Our community here is doing mostly a paper and pencil version of learning packages with telephone contact home.”

Teachers were prepared for both the chance that the school learning would be taught in-person or remotely, so being able to transition to either form wasn’t a huge challenge, she said. The school has had remote learning this year during an outbreak at KFN in October and at that time, large amounts of school supplies were provided so that households were equipped. More supplies are expected to be sent out, especially for those that support language arts and math as well as items supporting Dene culture and cooking, after the initial week, Reid said.

“It’s not definitely not the same as if you were doing it in the classroom and being here in person,” she said.

“It leaves us a bit fragmented, but we’re doing the best we can and we are working with parents who recognize too that it’s not the best scenario. But we’re a little bit concerned about this virus being passed on to the kids.”

Yvonne Careen, superintendent of the Commission scolaire francophone territories du nord-ouest, which oversees Ecole Boreale, issued a similar news release to the Hay River DEA’s on Jan. 7.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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