As Nunavut enters full-blown lock-down mode, many are probably looking around to see what they’ll be doing for the next three weeks, at least, and that’s being very optimistic.
With government offices shut down, school cancelled for at least the next three weeks, no visitors coming in or out and mines sending home workers, it will take some creative thinking to avoid going stir crazy.
But this is not a vacation.
In the event that the school year will be cancelled, which seems more and more likely by the day, educators will need to find a way to ensure that teaching youth continues.
Nunavut will need its teachers now more than ever. Youth will start to get cabin fever as their list of spring/summer activities dwindles to nearly none and unoccupied teens and preteens might become more likely to break rules about social distancing and isolation.
When homes in Nunavut have shown consistently to have overcrowding issues, it would be understandable that students would want to blow off some steam and get out of the house.
This is where involved teachers, or at the very least some form of government directed program, are needed to engage them.
It will take nothing short of creative juggling to make this happen, with recent revelations from SSi Micro and Northwestel showing that it would be physically impossible to increase the capacity of satellite bandwidth coming into the territory – at least they were able to double the internet caps in some communities.
There are options for distance study. Whether this means online night classes when internet use is not at its peak, using a phone-in method for classes, or even some form of archaic mail system, something must be tried.
With overburdened parents working from home with kids or trying to figure out how to make ends meet due to recent layoffs, the Government of Nunavut must signal strength to Nunavummiut and show more than monetary support and that yes, they are still working.
Now there are a lot of working folk in Nunavut that are out on the front lines and working overtime to deliver essential services like health-care workers, police, grocery store staff, municipal services workers and even journalists, and they deserve a good round of applause for their efforts.
But it will take the MLAs of Nunavut to hold the feet of government to the flame to ensure even non-essential workers are contributing to the betterment of the North and helping the passing of the crisis.
The government and economy may be locked down, but the people are not in hibernation and the youth need our support now more than ever to weather the storm.