COOK’S HARBOUR, NL – A Cook’s Harbour parent is concerned about her child’s education and safety if the town’s school is closed next year.
In June, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD) announced it would be reviewing six different school systems with low enrolment in the province.
Included on the list was James Cook Memorial in Cook’s Harbour. That school presently has an enrolment of 10 students.
The board is now considering having the students bussed 50 kilometres to White Hills Academy in St. Anthony as early as the 2018-19 school year.
Deanna Adey has a child in Grade 2 attending James Cook Memorial.
She has two major concerns with this proposal regarding the children’s education and safety.
“Safety is my biggest concern and the amount of time the children are going to lose,” she said.
Adey knows the side road for Cook’s Harbour won’t always be open due to heavy snowfalls in winter.
If the road is closed but White Hills Academy is open, children from Cook’s Harbour will miss classes.
Adey wonders how much school time they would lose when they could be attending classes in their hometown instead.
“There are going to be a number of days where our kids will not travel Cook’s Harbour road to go to St. Anthony,” Adey told the Northern Pen.
She’s aware of this from experience.
Last year, when she was taking a licensed practical nursing course in St. Anthony, she was once stuck at home in Cook’s Harbour for five days because the roads couldn’t open.
And Adey knows the 50-kilometre drive from Cook’s Harbour to St. Anthony isn’t always the safest in winter, even when the road is open.
“There are days where I wouldn’t travel it myself and for sure I’m not putting an eight-year-old child on it,” she said.
According to Adey, the people making these decisions can’t fully appreciate how poor the winter road conditions are unless they were to see it for themselves.
“They’re saying now, cost-wise, they’re going to save money but, in my opinion, there’s no price on a child’s life,” she said. “Whether you got 20 kids in this school, 200, or 10, every child’s life is worth the same. And I don’t think anybody that is not travelling that road in the wintertime on a regular basis can really appreciate how bad those roads get.”
She wants to see James Cook Memorial remain open and worries its closure would spell the end for Cook’s Harbour.
“There’s not much here anyway and our children and our school system is important to our community,” she said.
As part of the local school council, Adey has met with the NLESD as the board gathered feedback regarding the suggested realignments/closures.