SRSB mum on work-to-rule

GUYSBOROUGH: With Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) members preparing to vote today (Wednesday) on a tentative agreement reached  between the union and Nova Scotia’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD), the Strait regional school board (SRSB) is reserving comment on the resumption of the work-to-rule job action.

When the NSTU first launched its work-to-rule action on December 6, resulting in teachers arriving 20 minutes before classes begin, leaving 20 minutes after classes end, and foregoing any involvement in extracurricular activities, SRSB officials took steps such as hiring new student supervisors and tweaking up to 41 bus routes to accommodate for periods of teacher absences before, during and after the school day.

The work-to-rule period continued into the post-Christmas period but ended on January 23 after the NSTU and the province struck the tentative deal slated to go to a vote this week. However, the NSTU resumed its work-to-rule job action on January 29, with union president Liette Doucet accusing Premier Stephen McNeil of reneging on a portion of the new agreement involving two days off for teachers to seek out professional development options.

Asked to address the resumption of work-to-rule after last week’s regular monthly SRSB meeting at Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy, the board’s superintendent of schools, Ford Rice, issued a single-sentence response on behalf of the board.

“Out of respect for the upcoming ratification vote on February 8, 2017, and to be sensitive to all parties involved in the negotiations, I will not be making any further comments to the media on this matter,” Rice told reporters at the Guysborough school site.

In comments made to previous board meetings with regards to the SRSB’s response to the NSTU job action, Rice confirmed that the board has advertised for community members who can fill student supervision roles at the region’s schools, particularly during the lunch hours. Some schools also introduced a second lunch period to accommodate the onus placed on the new wave of supervisors to ensure the safety of students.

Late last week, the NSTU modified the conditions of its work-to-rule action. As a result, co-op and O2 courses and programs can proceed during instructional hours, students will be allowed to receive immunizations at schools, school officials may use the PowerSchool program to perform course changes and transfers and to register students, and teachers are now permitted to supervise trips outside of the province that were organized before the job action began and involve signed contracts concerning the financial aspects of such trips.