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Halifax parents need to be aware of these changes for the new school year

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia parents need to be aware of these changes for the new school year' Nova Scotia parents need to be aware of these changes for the new school year
WATCH: The countdown to thousands of students returning to classrooms throughout Nova Scotia is drawing near and this school year brings some notable changes. Alexa MacLean has more on what you need to know – Sep 4, 2018

The countdown to thousands of students returning to classrooms throughout Nova Scotia is drawing near and this school year brings some notable changes.

“One of the big changes with busing is that Stock Transportation has introduced a new routing system,” Doug Hadley said, a communications co-ordinator with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education.

Over the years, Stock Transportation Ltd. has been publicly criticized by parents who expressed frustration over the “removal of courtesy bus stops” as well as “miscommunication” over transportation during winter storms.”

READ MORE: Halifax-area parents concerned about school bus changes, 5 schools lose courtesy stops

The new routing system aims to enhance communication with parents of bused students.

“They can then find out what bus their child is on but more importantly they’ll always be able to know where that bus is because they’ll be able to watch it in real time. They’ll get notifications pushed to them if the bus is late so they won’t have to be waiting to wonder where the bus might be,” Hadley said.

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The new school year also brings with it the official dissolution of seven English school boards throughout Nova Scotia.

Previously, elected officials represented school districts throughout the province and served as a liaison between parents and the front lines of public school education.

The regional school boards will be replaced by a single appointed provincial advisory council, while the Acadian school board remains intact.

Hadley says the changes shouldn’t impact parents’ ability to seek answers to any concerns they may have or gain public school information.

“They should always call their child’s teacher first. We want them to have a very strong home/school relationship and that relationship is best served when that communication is two-way and open,” he said.

WATCH: Dozens of support staff positions remain unfilled as back to school approaches in Nova Scotia

Click to play video: 'Dozens of support staff positions remain unfilled as back to school approaches in Nova Scotia' Dozens of support staff positions remain unfilled as back to school approaches in Nova Scotia
Dozens of support staff positions remain unfilled as back to school approaches in Nova Scotia – Aug 23, 2018

The start of the 2018-19 school year also brings with it the continuing expansion of the pre-primary program. The provincial government introduced the program last fall and plans to have it implemented province-wide by the year 2020.

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“This year, we’re going to have 18 more schools that are going to have pre-primary in them,” Hadley said.

According to the province, the program is meant to prepare four-year-olds for their public school careers by placing them in a school environment where they can be supported by early learning and development.

The program is offered free of charge to children who turn four years of age before Dec. 31 of that school year.

Over the summer, there was concern expressed over newsletters that were sent home to parents stating that children under five-years-of-age weren’t allowed to play on playground equipment throughout the municipality due to Canadian Safety Standards.

READ MORE: Four-year-olds to be banned from N.S. school playground equipment

At the time,  Hadley said the Halifax Regional Centre for Education asked school principals to “come up with a plan to ensure that no children under the age of five are using playground equipment.”

Moving forward into the new school year, playground equipment for four-year-olds appears to be remaining “off limits”.

“Pre-primaries will look to other opportunities besides playground equipment. Grade primary and up will be able to use all the equipment that’s there,” Hadley said.

According to Hadley, pre-primary is “a play-based program that looks at the natural environment for opportunities for children to learn more about themselves.”

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