Tulita students start school year remotely during COVID-19 Sahtu outbreak

·2 min read
School children in the community of Tulita, N.W.T., started school on Monday virtually as the region continues to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak. (Anna Desmarais/CBC - image credit)
School children in the community of Tulita, N.W.T., started school on Monday virtually as the region continues to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak. (Anna Desmarais/CBC - image credit)

For children in Tulita, their first day of school on Monday was spent learning on Chromebooks in their homes.

The Sahtu Divisional Education Council decided to conduct classes virtually in that community, while the region continues to grapple with a COVID-19 outbreak.

Last Friday, the government of the Northwest Territories reported there were 198 cases of COVID-19 in the territory, with 175 of them in the Sahtu region.

Renee Closs, the council's superintendent, said it decided to move classes online at the recommendation of the community.

"[It's] in the best interest of keeping our community safe ... our students [safe], particularly the students that are ones that have not been able to be vaccinated yet," Closs told CBC.

The school board will re-evaluate the situation at the end of the week to decide whether online classes will continue.

Still time to decide for other communities

Closs said "there's still a bit more time" to decide whether remote learning needs to be offered in places like Norman Wells and Fort Good Hope, where students won't start school until the beginning of September.

If the community thinks there's a risk, she continued, then they will bring remote learning to students.

This wouldn't be the first time schools in the region went remote, Closs said. They switched to that system in March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, she said.

Since then, the council's been able to buy more devices for students with extra funding from the N.W.T. government, Closs continued. They're aiming to give one device per student in Grades 4 and up. They also provide students with Turbo sticks, which let students access the Internet.

Closs said there's "some heightened anxiety" for staff due to the outbreak, but they're looking forward to getting started.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting