As of this coming winter, there will only be one child living on the island of Grímsey, RÚV reports. There has been a grade school in continual operation on the island since 1904, but as the resident youth reach middle and/or secondary school-age, they have to move to the main island, usually to the town of Akureyri, and board at schools there. When the coming academic year starts, only one five-year-old boy will still live on Grímsey; all of the island’s other children will be boarding elsewhere for school.
Grímsey is located 40 km [25 mi] off the northern coast of Iceland and actually straddles the Arctic circle. Less than 30 people have registered full-time residence there, although last fall, this number dropped to around 18 people in the off-season, i.e. from August to December. Last year, there were three young children living on the island, all of whom were schooled there. One family with two young children is, however, about to move away.
Unnur Íngólfsdóttir is mother to four children, including the youngest Grímsey resident. Her next youngest will be starting high school in Akureyri in the fall, just as her older two children did before. Unnur told RÚV that it’s doubtful that the kindergarten will operate in the fall, since she doesn’t think that her son will much enjoy being the only child there all day. She’s considering ways that she can improve her son’s situation, with one idea being that she’ll take him to the main island for kindergarten one week a month, which will give him the opportunity to socialize with other children. Although she insists that she’s optimistic by nature and loves living on Grímsey, Unnur says that her family has obviously started to consider its future on the island.
Ingibjörg Ólöf Isaksen, the chair of the Akureyri town council’s education committee, said it will be hard to keep the Grímsey school open for just one pupil. She said that she hoped that the number of children on the island would increase in the coming years, in which case, there would be no difficulty in reopening the school.