NSTU wants classroom audits done before students head back to school
HALIFAX -- In exactly two weeks, tens of thousands of Nova Scotia students will be back in the classroom for the first time since March.
"We are excited because she's found it difficult for the first few months, being alone and isolated,” said Carmen Levy, whose daughter Sadie is going into Grade 6 this year.
With the final countdown on, the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union is calling on the provincial government to provide parents with a detailed health and safety audit of their child’s classroom before school resumes on Sept. 8.
Paul Wozney says the health audit would provide specific details to parents, such as the number of children in the class, the square footage of the class, the amount of physical distance between students, the type of ventilation in the classroom and the number of proper hand-washing stations in the classroom.
"If you've got the data, reports like this shouldn't be hard to generate at this point in the year. The only reason why you couldn't turn these out on a short time table is because you don't actually know the answers to these questions,” he said.
Wozney says there are still a lot of unanswered questions before kids go back to school.
"Mandatory masking is only in place from 4, Grades 4 and up, it's not in place from P-to-3; we think it needs to be,” said Wozney. “We have no idea how COVID cases are going to be identified, tracked and communicated in our schools. That's a huge issue for parents and system staff."
Even parents who plan to send their kids back to school have questions.
"Kind of wondering if anything does happen, what the protocol will be to get back to the house,” said Levy. “Making sure that they're separated enough, it's hard to get kids to keep that distance and how they're going to go about that, but I've been putting trust in the Nova Scotia government."
With a second wave of COVID-19 expected this fall, some parents plan to keep their kids home for now.
Because of health issues, Nichole Gloade has to homeschool her four children. Gloade says she has been getting no support at all.
"I'm stuck to fend on my own, with a special-needs child and three others so, I ended up having to go out at the last minute buying curriculum for them and I've even called the Department of Education here Thursday and I still haven't hear anything back from them,” she said.
Gloade says she’s frustrated and feels government put together a plan that’s not well thought out.
"I really think that they need to get a better plan in place for people that fall into this category, like myself, and I know there's many others out there that do, there's no support whatsoever and I think that it's really unfair that the child, these children are lacking the support that they need,” she said.
Neither Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang nor Education Minister Zach Churchill was available for an interview Tuesday to discuss the province’s back-to-school plan.