Nova Scotia

Work-to-rule is over, but not all teachers willing to take on old tasks

Parents and students looking for their extracurricular school programs to start up again now that work-to-rule is over might be disappointed, as some teachers opt not to volunteer for the extras they participated in before the job action.

'Teachers have realized ... that they were more stressed than they thought,' says head of NSTU

Teachers are deciding what added tasks to resume now that work-to-rule has ended. (Tom Woodward/Flickr Creative Commons)

It appears the end of work-to-rule won't necessarily mean a return to normal.

Parents and students looking for their extracurricular school programs to restart now that work-to-rule is over might be disappointed, as some teachers opt not to volunteer for the extras they did before the job action.

The head of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union said some teachers have decided to stop participating in lunch supervision and some after-school work.

"Teachers have realized through work-to-rule and through the directives of the NSTU that they were more stressed than they thought," Liette Doucet said on CBC's Maritime Noon. "They were missing out on more than they thought."

Slow transition back

Students went without clubs, sports teams, trips and extra help for nearly two months during the contract dispute as teachers only did work specifically outlined in their collective agreement.

The union announced the end of work-to-rule Friday, after reaching a tentative agreement with the province.

Since then, school boards have been busy issuing notices to families warning there won't be an instant fix. Programs will be restarted based on priorities and a transition plan.

"It will be up to teachers to decide whether they wish to continue providing their support to clubs/activities that they have done prior to [work-to-rule]," Doug Hadley, a spokesperson for Halifax Regional School Board, wrote in an email.

"Schools are doing their best right now to make those determinations. This will take some time."

Each individual school will make decisions about clubs and programs. It's up to the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation to give notice on sports.

On its website, the NSSAF said "the resumption of leagues will be determined and communicated as quickly as possible." It adds that provincial championships will be held on the original dates listed at the beginning of the year.

20-minute drop off continues

School boards have posted several warnings on their websites, trying to address the grey area they now face as they try to move past the contract dispute.

"While this is welcome news, the transition back to regular operations in schools will take some time," the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board said on its website.

"Extracurricular activities may resume, however, this is at the discretion of staff organizers."

Parents are asked to continue dropping off children and picking them up within the 20-minute window that was established during work-to-rule.

Bus schedules and drop off times should remain the same as during work-to-rule until the contract is ratified. (CBC)

At the Tri-County Regional School Board, interim superintendent Jim Gunn wrote to parents that "communicating as soon as possible with you about the [work-to-rule] transition is being discussed as a top priority with principals. You will start to hear from your principal and/or myself when something specific and helpful can be sent your way."

Lunch supervision

Doucet pointed to lunch supervision as one key task teachers have decided they won't resume.

"One of the things I'm hearing the most from teachers is how much they've enjoyed having a lunch break," she said.

Doucet said the time allowed them to reconnect with their peers, go for a walk or to the gym.

She said it will be up to the school boards to find a solution to lunch supervision, and the budget for that already exists.

Doucet said they've had "enormous" support from the public and it was important to show just how much teachers do.

"They didn't like stopping those things, but it allowed them to realize that they may have to rethink what they're volunteering for."

With files from Maritime Noon