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Bedford high school needs support, 'time to heal' following stabbing: NSTU president

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The president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) is weighing in after two staff members and a student, who is also the suspect, were injured in a stabbing at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford, N.S., Monday morning.

The Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) said all three injured individuals, whose identities have not been released, were taken to hospital.

Police say a youth who is a student at the school was taken into custody.

NSTU President Ryan Lutes couldn't provide an update on the two staff members who were injured during an interview with CTV Morning Live Atlantic Tuesday, telling anchor Amanda Debison he only knows what’s been reported in the media.

“We’re certainly working to try to confirm those details,” he said. “And our heart goes out to the victims and to the school community, the students, the staff, they’re going to really need a lot of support in the coming days.”

Following Monday’s incident, Charles P. Allen High School was placed under a hold-and-secure order while police responded to the scene.

Students were then dismissed early and the school was closed for the day.

An email sent to families by the high school's principal Monday evening said classes will resume Tuesday at 12:45 p.m. for a "mini day."

"School psychologists, school social workers and school counsellors will be available at the school over the coming days to provide individual and small group supports to students who would like to connect with them," said Stephanie Bird.

Lutes says it’s his understanding that it is to give both adults and students support.

“Because oftentimes, especially as teachers, our immediate thoughts go to our students and how we’re going to support them, but the adults in that building, the teachers, the school support staff, the admin team, they’re going to need a lot of support and a lot of counselling through this as well.”

He added that there’s a kind of “sacred bond” when parents send their kids to school – an understanding that they’re going to come home safely and that their schools are free of violence.

“And, obviously, that didn’t happen yesterday, and so the community needs time to heal,” he said. “That’s where our immediate concern is.”

Lutes says the incident hits close to home for himself and other NSTU members.

“I mean, I’m a dad, I’m a high school teacher. We have a lot of members who go to work every day really trying to take everything to the nth degree to support their kids and it hits close to home when something like this happens.

He hopes that in the coming days there will be an investigation into the incident.

“I think it’s incumbent upon all of us, and that’s the NSTU included, to do everything that we can to make sure our schools are as safe as possible for our kids and our staff and we certainly look forward to doing that work with government.”

Monday evening, Nova Scotia's minister of education and early childhood development, Becky Druhan, released a statement calling the incident "very troubling."

In the statement, Druhan said the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will work with HRCE “to ensure the safety protocols in place worked as intended and determine any next steps.”

It also said the department will work with its partners, including the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.

Lutes says there is open dialogue with the province, with initial conversations taking place Monday with both HRCE and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

“I think our immediate concern is making sure that community is as safe as it can be, as supported as it can be, and then we’ll look to kind of how we can make our schools as safe as we can, because, again, that’s near and dear to teachers’ hearts.”

He added that there has been a rise in violence in schools coming out of the pandemic.

“We’re certainly looking to be a big part of that conversation and have teachers’ perspectives heard and make sure our kids and our school staff and our teachers are as safe as they can be at school.”

He also commended the Charles P. Allen staff for their handling of the incident.

“Obviously, we had an incident and the right procedures were put in place after that to make sure that there was no spillover of the incident and that the rest of the students and staff were kept safe.”

“It was a hard day yesterday,” he added. “And there’s going to be hard days in the coming weeks and months and certainly the NSTU will work and do whatever we can to support both the students and the adults in that building.” 

Anyone who requires mental health supports can also contact

  • the provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line at 1-888-429-8167 or visit their website
  • for children and youth, the Kids Help Phone can be reached at 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) or text CONNECT to 686868

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