Students in Nova Scotia returned to the classroom Monday, after a three-week break from school.

"My daughter is really excited about the classes, returning to see her friends and her teacher," said one parent.

Concerned by what the holiday might bring, the province opted for an extended break.

"We know that after taking an additional week to assess the situation with COVID in Nova Scotia that our students will be returning to a safe learning environment," said Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill.

Churchill says students and staff shouldn't expect much of a change in classroom procedures.

"We are going to continue to work with public health to monitor the situation but we feel really good right now," Churchill said.

That extra week was put to good use by school staff.

"Teachers were back in the school last week preparing and doing some professional development," said Derek Carter, the principal at Park West School.

Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Paul Wozney said the NSTU got a lot of positive feedback about extending the break by a week.

It also gave teachers a mental break, setting them up for a second half where there is a lot of work ahead.

While the number of full-time teachers in the province remains steady, Wozney says the number of substitutes is at an all-time low.

In Halifax alone, there are typically 2,000 active substitutes, this year they're below 1,000. Wozney attributes the low numbers to the pandemic.

"Substitute teaching is a job where people are at risk, they're not very well paid they don't have access to benefits, they don't have access to paid sick leave," Wozney said.