'It's just not safe': NSTU criticizes school conditions before classes resume
HALIFAX -- Monday marked the day before back-to-school across the Maritimes. After over five months since COVID-19 prompted schools to close, students are scheduled to return on Tuesday.
However, in Nova Scotia, teachers say some schools aren't ready to reopen.
On Monday, Grade 2 student Maria Mothana enjoyed her final day of summer vacation before the school routine sets in.
"I have to wake up at 8 a.m.," said Maria, more concerned about her alarm than COVID-19.
Maria and her brother, Mohammed, are excited to return to the classroom. However, the pandemic-readiness of classrooms is being called into question by the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.
"There's a lot of people headed back to school tomorrow worried about safety, logistics, and readiness to provide the supports that teachers and kids deserve," says Nova Scotia Teachers Union President Paul Wozney. "Some hand sanitizer has been dropped off undiluted, and it's expected to be put on kids' hands. It's just not safe."
Wozney has been sharing pictures on his Instagram account detailing the condition of schools. In the photos, images of gyms and resource rooms crowded with boxes and furniture can be seen, as well as a window shut with duct tape. Additionally, he questions whether ventilation systems are working.
The province maintains schools are ready and will be ready to welcome students.
"Students are excited to return to school tomorrow and schools will be ready to welcome them," read a statement from the province, sent to CTV News via email on Monday. "Thank you to our principals and teachers, regional and CSAP staff, the experts at public health and the IWK for their hard work and expertise in developing a plan to get our kids back to school safely."
Meanwhile, some educators are using social media to provide reassurance. Schools such as Lunenburg's Bluenose Academy are creating videos detailing their safety precautions.
GETTING STUDENTS READY
Supplemental education service, Oxford Learning, says parents have their own homework cut out for them concerning their children's safety.
"What we need to talk to them about is, how do we wear a mask? How do we sanitize our hands? What sorts of things will be different at schools this year?" says Lorelei Burgess, director of Oxford Learning.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Sarah Plowman