Nova Scotia Closing All Public Schools Monday as Teachers Start Job Action

By Bresge, Adina | The Canadian Press, December 3, 2016 | Go to article overview

Nova Scotia Closing All Public Schools Monday as Teachers Start Job Action


Bresge, Adina, The Canadian Press


N.S. closing schools due to teachers' job action

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HALIFAX - Nova Scotia is closing all its public schools Monday as teachers prepare to take job action over failed contract negotiations.

The provincial education minister told reporters Saturday that it cannot ensure student safety under the Nova Scotia Teacher Union's planned work-to-rule job action.

"The safety of our students is paramount in all of this," Karen Casey said. "What we're saying to parents is that we recognize that this will be an inconvenience in the short-term, but we believe that the responsibility to ensure that their students are safe is a priority and we will err on the side of that."

The union representing 9,300 public school educators has directed staff to go to school 20 minutes before classes begin and leave 20 minutes after they end.

Casey said after consultations with school board officials, the provincial government determined that the job actions proposed by the NSTU could "put our students in an unsafe environment." She cited concerns about students being stranded in schoolyards, unsupervised in classrooms and children with special needs arriving on buses and getting to class without teacher assistance.

Casey said the Liberal government plans to bring forward legislation that will return students to school "as quickly as possible." The legislation will impose the tentative agreement reached by the province and the teachers union in September as an NSTU contract through July 2019. If passed, the legislation would make strike action illegal.

Under the new contract for teachers included in the upcoming legislation, Casey assured that there will be "no interruption" in the examination periods or other programs overseen by teachers.

The president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union said in a statement Saturday that the province's announcement has left parents "scrambling to find care." Liette Doucet said if the provincial government were concerned about students' safety, it would have let students go to school where teachers would have been ready to teach.

"With this step, our government is showing that it will do anything except negotiate with teachers," said Doucet. "Instead of negotiating with teachers in good faith, this government has decided to take away their collective rights and impose a contract ... one that doesn't address the core problems with our education system."

With less than 48 hours notice of the upcoming school closures, parents are scrambling to find childcare solutions. Community centres like the Canada Games Centre and the Boys and Girls Club of Truro have offered programs for students next week, and other self-proclaimed childcare providers have turned to websites like Kijiji advertising makeshift solutions for parents. …

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