Advertisement

Nova Scotia students want their voices heard in return-to-school plan

Click to play video: 'Students want their voices heard in return-to-school plan' Students want their voices heard in return-to-school plan
WATCH: As the war of words between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and provincial government drags on, students are speaking up to make sure their voices aren’t forgotten. Graeme Benjamin reports – Sep 4, 2020

Students say they are feeling left out of the discussion around how schools will reopen safely — something they hope will change as the school year progresses.

“People need to understand that students have voices that may be necessary for schools,” said Krish Kodali, a Grade 11 student at Charles P. Allen High School.

“Those voices might be really productive and constructive in finding opinions and thoughts in how to run (reopening) very efficiently.”

With four days to go until the start of classes, tensions are rising between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the provincial government.

Read more: ‘It’s how the premier rolls,’ NSTU leader says after premier downplays concerns in schools

On Thursday, Premier Stephen McNeil claimed teachers union president Paul Wozney was “creating a bunch of noise and rhetoric” by suggesting public schools are unsafe and in “chaos.”

Story continues below advertisement

But Wozney said it’s a representation of what he’s heard from teachers and staff.

While all that is happening, students want to make sure their voices aren’t left unheard.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“We need a new take on situations such as social distancing and wearing masks in school,” said Kodali.

“We could also create a blog or a site where we could put our voices; that would be a pretty good idea, too,” said Grade 11 student Barth Bobli.

Earlier this week, the union called on the Department of Education to postpone the beginning of the school year by two days. But that request was rejected on Thursday by Minister Zach Churchill, who said the return-to-school plan is moving along smoothly.

Click to play video: 'Tensions escalate between N.S. Teachers Union and provincial government' Tensions escalate between N.S. Teachers Union and provincial government
Tensions escalate between N.S. Teachers Union and provincial government – Sep 3, 2020

But that’s not a sentiment shared by Kristen Somma, who says her daughter’s elementary school in Eastern Passage isn’t close to meeting physical distancing requirements.

Story continues below advertisement

“They are not six feet apart. They aren’t one feet apart. They are literally sitting beside each other,” said Somma. “And now she has to take her mask off at lunch to eat, and I have to feel safe with that.

“That, to me, is chaos.”

Somma says there’s been a breakdown in communication and feels parents have been “left to deal with things” on their own.

“We can’t keep putting kids in the same box,” she said. “There’s different ways to learn, and children are dealing with medical conditions, learning difficulties, and I just feel like these aren’t being addressed.”

Read more: Nova Scotia premier rejects teachers’ allegations that schools are unsafe

Kodali and Bobli say even though there are several uncertainties going into this academic year, they’re still looking forward to going back to school and returning to some form of normalcy.

“Going into the last two years of school, I want that to be a good experience,” said Kodali.

“I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I would rather be at school than be sitting at home,” said Bobli.

Sponsored content