Nova Scotia schools to remain closed for the remainder of the school year
Am empty teacher's desk is pictured at the front of a empty classroom at Mcgee Secondary school in Vancouver on Sept. 5, 2014. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)
HALIFAX -- Public schools in Nova Scotia will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
Nova Scotia schools and daycares have been closed since March break in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
During a news conference on Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil confirmed that schools will not reopen this month and the school year will officially end on June 5.
Students have been continuing their education at home during the pandemic, either online or with workbooks.
McNeil said at-home learning will continue until June 5.
“I want to thank teachers and parents and the Nova Scotia Teachers' Union for their support as we continue to find our way through this unprecedented time of delivering education and as we work together on what the school year will look like next year,” said the premier.
“Teachers will continue to work until the end of June to finalize assessments and report cards, so another workbook is on its way, and that means your kitchen is a classroom for a little bit longer.”
McNeil acknowledged that the news may be especially difficult for students who are set to graduate from high school this year.
“To the graduating class of 2020, this is a tough pill to swallow,” he said. “This is not how you envisioned your Grade 12 year, but there will be a way to celebrate and you will come out of this stronger, smarter and ready to take on any new challenge.”
Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers' Union, said teachers are happy to have some clarity after weeks of uncertainty.
"The situation we have with COVID-19 is a public health issue, not a public education issue. As much as teachers miss students and as much as students' lives have been interrupted because they can't physically attend school, it matters that we do what's best for Nova Scotia from a public health perspective," said Wozney.
"I think the uncertainty of not knowing is really hard for a lot of people, on top of the other stress we're dealing with. So, now we have clarity about what's happening for the rest of the year."
Daycares may reopen next month
As for daycares, they will remain closed until June 5, with a goal to reopen on June 8. However, McNeil said that date has not been confirmed, and a final decision will be made closer to June 8.
McNeil said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, will consult with daycare operators to help them understand the necessary guidelines and protocols in place so they can reopen safely.
The premier has also asked Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill and his team to work with daycare operators during the transition.
No dates set for reopening plan
McNeil said Nova Scotia’s reopening plan is under development, but no dates are set at this time.
He said decisions around what will reopen and when will be made based on advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the status of COVID-19 in the province, consultation with sectors, and the ability for people and businesses to continue following public health measures.
"We must take a slow and methodical approach if we are to safely bring Nova Scotia back to normal," said Strang. "No decisions have been made. We are working on a reopening plan that balances public safety with the need to increase economic and social activity. The first phase is still some weeks away."
The province said reopening will be done in phases, over time, and each phase could last a minimum of 28 days. Readiness to reopen -- and to move onto the next phase -- will be assessed weekly.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Natasha Pace