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Nova Scotia Teachers Union blasts province's latest plan

NSTU President Paul Wozney says the province's directives don't line up with the realities of school settings
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(Meghan Groff/HalifaxToday.ca)

Nova Scotia's latest changes to its back to school plan has not won over the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.

They say that the rule changes announced August 14 by Education Minister Zach Churchill requiring pupils grades 4 and up to wear masks raises more questions than answers. 

Churchill says the updated rule mandates non-medical masks for students in Grades 4 to 12 while in school. In addition, those students will be required to wear face coverings inside schools and common areas, except when they are seated at their desks, and only then if their desks are spaced two metres apart and facing the same direction. 

Nova Scotia Teachers Union President Paul Wozney says the province's directives don't line up with the realities of school settings.

"It's very clear there's a disconnect between the expertise at Public Health and whether or not it can happen in the manner that's intended given the way that our schools function," said Wozney.

While he says he respects the province's efforts during the pandemic, Wozney insists most classrooms are not big enough to accomodate social distancing or the practicality of teaching.

"There are pedagogical questions here," said Wozney following the announcement. "This plan calls for students to be placed in rows, spread out and never moved from their seats all day. Teachers don't teach like that. They haven't taught like that in decades."

Wozney says he is also concerned about the incongruity with rules that state students aged 10 and under must wear masks in common areas and on buses but not in classrooms.

"If they are a risk to spread on the bus, if they are a risk to spread in the hallway, how are they not a risk to spread in the classroom?" Wozney said.

He adds that that with teachers not yet back at work, there are many questions about who is making the preparations the provincial government insists are being made to ensure a safe opening.

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