Nova Scotia teachers, union, unhappy about schools reopening

When Nova Scotia Teachers Union President Paul Wozney first heard Halifax and Sydney-area schools were going to reopen, his reaction was scathing.

"It's a politically bungled decision," said Wozney, who added the union was not consulted. "We were given a heads up five minutes after the press briefing started."

According to Nova Scotia's Education Minister, the low COVID-19 case count was the main driver behind the decision.

"Based on the recommendations of public health, we all felt that there was an opportunity to get our kids and children back in school," said Derek Mombourquette.

Wayne McKay, a parent of two students, said he still focused on what Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin had previously said.

"They were going to be online for the rest of the year," said McKay. "And everyone made the changes to do that. Then suddenly without any notice or prep, they've been told they are doing a 180, and going back into the classroom."

Wozney is concerned many Nova Scotia families have already made the tough transition into a 'learning from home' environment.

"Parents took a leave of absence from jobs they can't take," said Wozney. "They paid for childcare that they can't take back."

Wozney is also worried about safety. "Public health's own statistics show that there was notable community spread in a number of schools," said Wozney.

McKay has similar concerns.

"My wife and I still haven't decided if we're going to send our kids back right away or not," said McKay.

But Mombourquette said, based on public health recommendations, schools are not a spreader of COVID-19.

"Usually what has taken place is, we have somebody with COVID who has a contact within the community within the school," said Mombourquette.

Wozney said teachers will make the necessary adjustments and are now in scramble mode as they prepare to return to school by Thursday.