The New Reality: Nova Scotia students, parents left wondering what September will bring

Students, parents left wondering what September will bring
As teachers and officials design the “new normal” for our education systems, parents and students are kept out of the loop. Jesse Thomas explains.

When Adair Roop broke the news to her six-year-old daughter Ana that she wouldn’t be going back to school this year, she broke down and cried.

“Ana would come in and cry and just say, ‘I’m not having a good day today mommy, I miss my friends and miss my teacher,” said Roop.

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools and turned our education into a solitary at-home experience for tens of thousands of students across the region.

As the school year winds down, many parents and students are now left wondering what September will bring.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia schools to stay closed for remainder of the academic year

Whether you call it at-home, online, or emergency remote learning, it has been a learning experience on its own.

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“One thing that’s worked for us is just trying to be relaxed about our expectations,” said Roop. “I don’t know if there’s been one day that we’ve actually got one hundred percent of the work done.”

The transition to at-home learning wasn’t easy for Kelly Ash and her nine-year-old daughter Isabel and 12-year-old daughter Addison in Truro, N.S.

“They really struggled with getting used to this new way of learning and not having a teacher right there with them and having their friends there with them to ask questions and understand exactly what’s happening,” said Ash.

The COVID-19 state of emergency was declared in Nova Scotia back on March 22. As the at-home education experience plays on, there’s a bit of routine building now as both parents get used to this new normal.

“We’ve tried to structure our time around when the teacher has office hours,” said Ash. “That’s what’s working for us.”

“So if we have questions, we’ve tried to do it outside those office hours and it doesn’t work. My youngest gets frustrated really quickly and she gets really frustrated with me.”

News that the school year in Nova Scotia would end early on June 5 without a return to class was not a surprise to either parent.

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But like many parents across the region, they’re now wondering what September will bring.

“It’s a matter of whether they get to school in September and then we have to come back out again and do homeschooling again, because we’re in a second wave, right?,” said Ash. “I don’t know how this is going to play out.”

Halifax teacher discusses how learning will change amid COVID-19 pandemic
Halifax teacher discusses how learning will change amid COVID-19 pandemic

As a public health nurse, Roop believes school will look very different

“I’m not sure if social distancing will be necessary by September?” she asks.

But if so, there are creative ways to ensure there’s more space, she says.

“There are different ways you can bring kids in, you can stagger bell times, you can stagger lunch hours,” said Roop. “You can have less kids out in the playground at one time.”

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READ MORE: Nova Scotia extends school closures until at least May long weekend

The calendar is set for next year, but what school will look like remains unclear.

Quebec has resumed classes at its public schools, giving Nova Scotia and New Brunswick time to learn from that experience.

Both parents agree that health and safety will remain the priority.​