Nova Scotia extends school closures until at least May long weekend

Nova Scotia’s schools will remain closed until the long weekend in May, said Premier Stephen McNeil Tuesday.

The province says the decision to keep students at home will be reassessed leading up to Victoria Day.

Some provinces have already made final decisions about reopening schools. Quebec decided Monday to open schools mid-May. New Brunswick, on the other hand, decided to close schools until September.

Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU), said health and safety must be the top priority when it comes to teachers, students and families. After nearly seven weeks of at-home learning, he said there is no rush to open schools.

“I want to know that what we’re doing with schools is in best interest of Nova Scotia from a public health perspective.”

In Tuesday’s announcement, Premier McNeil said the efforts of teachers, students and parents during this time are inspiring. “Education, even not in the classroom, is very important for our province, for our children.”

According to McNeil, families will receive another workbook to use as a guide for at-home learning.

An ongoing challenge with school closure is providing education to students without internet access, especially those in rural communities. Wozney said the NSTU is part of a working group that meets frequently to talk about the learning continuity process.

While teachers do what they can to accommodate students, access to learning material remains one of the main issues.

“In a largely urban/suburban area where everybody is walking to school, supporting students without internet access in that setting is extremely different than it is for a consolidated rural high school,” said Wozney. “It remains an important need to resolve this collaboratively, and we’re not quite there yet.”

School closure is only one part of the province’s strict restrictions in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. In Tuesday’s announcement, Dr. Robert Strang said these restrictions will not be lifted any time soon.

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