I would like to take this opportunity to welcome back all returning teachers and school administrators, and also to our new members who are joining us as colleagues in Nunavut this school year. For many of us, this past summer was one of sacrifice and unexpected experiences. My hope is that everyone found some time to relax, recharge, and are now looking forward to being back in school with our students.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put up extreme challenges in our ability to deliver a quality education program to our students. We as Nunavumiut have been lucky so far that COVID has not reached our territory, but we must continue as a society to remain vigilant. While the NTA agrees that a return to in-school instruction is in the best interest of students and parents, such a return must be done responsibly and with the safety of students and staff being of paramount concern. The Department of Education should be providing masks and PPE for students and staff upon request, at no expense. There needs to be a greater emphasis on social distancing protocols in our schools. The safety of our teachers and students should not be held at a lower standard than other institutions in our communities. Most importantly, the Government of Nunavut cannot implement unrealistic outcomes and standards upon teachers, in particular without added supports and resources. Once again, our members are being tasked with additional work plans and guidelines. We will continue to press the Government of Nunavut to support a realistic plan that will keep teachers as safe as possible while providing a warm and welcoming learning environment for our children.
In closing, I want to thank you for all your hard work and countless hours of preparation you’ll be taking on this year in providing great learning opportunities for our students. Being a teacher is not a 9-5 job, all the work that goes into a school day is so much more. We appreciate how hard it is to be a teacher, to have to live your career as a part of your lifestyle and be held as a constant example to the community. However, we also know how rewarding it is to be of service, to see children develop and learn, and the satisfaction in knowing we are making positive contributions in the lives of our youth each day. Our profession has many stresses, but the chance to get to work with such a great group of resilient young people every day makes it more than worthwhile.
Welcome everyone, we will continue to advocate for you and our students.
President, Nunavut Teachers’ Association