Nova Scotia

Halifax school board hires guards to help supervise students as classes resume

The Halifax Regional School Board says it has hired security guards for 15 schools due to concerns students arriving early wouldn't be supervised as teachers begin their work-to-rule job action.

'We want to make sure students are supervised when they arrive,' says school board

A security guard keeps an eye on students at Fairview Junior High School in Halifax while waiting for teachers to arrive.

As classrooms filled with students today following Monday's one-day closure, some schools in Halifax had an extra addition in their schoolyard — security guards. 

The Halifax Regional School Board said it has hired security guards for 15 schools due to concerns students arriving early wouldn't be supervised as teachers begin their work-to-rule job action.

Under the union's work-to-rule plan, teachers will show up at school 20 minutes before classes start and leave 20 minutes after the last class of the day.

Doug Hadley, a spokesman for the Halifax school board, said the guards were brought in to help supervise children arriving by bus before teachers. He said Stock Transportation, which handles busing, is working to change its schedules so students arrive later.

"In the meantime we want to make sure students are supervised when they arrive," said Hadley.

Contract dispute 

Tensions between the provincial government and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union have escalated over the last few days.

On Monday the province closed schools. Education Minister Karen Casey claimed it wasn't safe for children during work-to-rule and students wouldn't be supervised at lunch or when they arrived or departed school. The union has said it addressed those concerns last week. 

Education Minister Karen Casey announced Monday that students will be allowed back to school on Tuesday. (CBC)

The two sides are involved in a contract dispute that's dragged on for months.

The Liberals had planned to introduce a bill that would impose a contract on teachers, who have been without one for 18 months. Schools would have stayed closed until the bill was passed.

On Monday afternoon, Casey announced the government would not table the bill and it remains unclear if that will happen. She also said schools would reopen.

Students happy to be back

Despite all the uncertainty, students at Fairview Junior High were glad to back in class this morning.

"Honestly, it feels pretty good because yesterday I wasn't able to hang out with my friends," said Grade 8 student Maggie Redden. "This is pretty much where I have a social life."

Grade 8 student Maggie Reddan says she's happy to be back to school because it's where she has a social life. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Under work-to-rule, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union has said its members will do only what's required under their collective agreement. That means no extras such extracurricular activities will be allowed.

'There's got to be a resolution for this for everyone' 

"I'm relieved and I don't know what happened yesterday but I hope it's something that everyone can live with," said Nancy McQuade, a parent who was dropping off two kids at the school. 

Mark Cooper has two children in school. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Mark Cooper was another parent dropping off a pair of children.

"We support the teachers," said Cooper. "There's got to be a resolution for this for everyone involved. It's a little inconvenient coming a bit later." 

Protests were held around the province yesterday as some students put their support firmly behind their teachers. They're hoping there won't be a need for another day of protests.

"I enjoy school actually, I enjoy learning, hanging out with my friends at lunch," said Redden. "It felt weird not having that day."

About the Author

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across the province for 30 years.