Reckless staffing cuts by @Elwin_Leroux & @HRCE_NS put student & staff safety at risk for 2021-2022 #COVID19 #nsed #nspoli

This weekend, without public oversight, the Halifax Regional Centre for Education’s Regional Executive Director Elwin LeRoux (Twitter: @ElwinLeroux) and his leadership team are carrying out cuts to staffing by as much as 12.5% at metro high schools while completely eliminating Unassigned Instructional Time (UIT).

UIT has been the backbone of HRCE’s COVID-19 safe return to school protocols supporting in-person learning.

The last several weeks have shown us that even fully deploying UIT has not been enough to stop massive community spread in metro schools during the third wave.

This week NS Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang told families, students and school staff that remote learning could remain in place until the end of the year.

In other provinces where community spread has taken root widely in schools, driving case counts down has proven near impossible despite adding restrictions over months, even as vaccines rolled out faster and more broadly than they have here in NS.

This raises deep questions about the premature elimination of the most important COVID-19 safety resource HRCE has at its disposal to protect students and staff BEFORE anyone knows what September’s epidemiology will look like.

UIT, as a base, has proven insufficient to protect against third wave community spread in numerous HRCE schools. How can eliminating it and the layer of protection it affords to nearly 1/2 of all NS students and school staff be safe or remotely responsible heading into next year?

It’s worth reminding families that until Bill 72 wiped out their elected, community-first elected trustees that Elwin LeRoux’s callous plan to eliminate UIT during a pandemic would have been subject to Elected Trustees’ approval. Now? It’s a call he makes himself, accountable solely to Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Derek Mombourquette.

I can confirm definitively that the Nova Scotia Teachers Union has presented both HRCE and the Minister with compelling data about the critical importance of UIT to pandemic safety, as well as proven positive impacts on student attendance, achievement and retention and engagement. Further, we have sustained behind the scenes efforts for weeks that have provided both HRCE and the Minister with ample opportunity to solve this issue without public controversy that could destabilize public confidence in the safety of Metro schools.

Still, those efforts have fallen on deaf ears and the cuts march on. That’s why teachers, school counsellors and school based specialist are calling on families and community members to join in overwhelming mobilization to prevent this dumbfounding decision from moving forward.

Together, we have until Wednesday, May 12, to prevent these actions from being finalized. Once staffing processes begin on Wednesday, it will be next to impossible to reverse these cuts without throwing Metro schools into utter chaos for the rest of this year and for 2021-2022.

We invite family and community to get loud and direct with their MLA and RED Elwin LeRoux that this decision cannot stand. They can do so by:

– Contacting Elwin LeRoux by email at & by phone at (902) 464-2000 ext 2312
– Identifying the MLA for their home and/or community school address by entering their postal code at
– Locating your MLA’s email contact via their NS Legislature profile page at

Government and Public Health cannot rest on protecting the wider community by telling Nova Scotians to stay home and avoid purchasing sandals at Costco. It must also ensure that the system resources needed to safeguard key social pillars are maintained until COVID-19 is stamped out for good.

The human resources needed to make in person learning safe and sustainable at Metro schools, where third wave community spread has hit schools hardest, MUST be protected now so they are not lost for September.

I urge all families, school staff and concerned citizens to rally over the next five days to send a clear message that deep cuts to staffing in metro schools is the wrong thing to do for our kids and communities.

Changes to COVID-19 reporting in schools raise questions #nsed #COVID19 #3rdwave

While all public schools in Nova Scotia moved to remote learning this week, it’s important to remember that Nova Scotia’s students have had the longest sustained stretch of in person learning in Canada prior to the circuit break that began a few days ago. For that, we are all thankful.
It’s also a good time to remember that public education is far and away the single largest, most interconnected system at work in our province. Across NS, there are approximately 320 public school sites where 120,000 students and 20,000 staff report to learn & support learning daily.
Until recently when the 3rd wave hit, our schools and students were the envy of the nation. Prior to the 3rd wave, the largest number of schools with identified COVID cases within a two week period was 12, coming during the 2nd wave in Nov/Dec 2020.
One of those schools had 2 cases. The rest had 1.
Fast forward to today. Close to 50 public schools have been identified as having at least 1 positive case in the past two weeks. What is troubling about these recent numbers is that there is at least one school with dozens of cases, and two others with several. Yet, Public Health and EECD are not reporting this information in the way school cases were reported before remote learning was announced this week.
The data presented on April 30 by Dr. Strang show that over 1/6 current active cases are children 16 and younger.

We’ve been told that kids are not at risk and that schools are safe throughout the pandemic. This data, coupled with ongoing advocacy from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union about scant public health protocols in public school classrooms since last summer, has raised eyebrows about that claim.
This week, the move to remote learning came with changes to how positive cases are reported, apparently on a go forward basis: Public Health and EECD have indicated they will no longer report the total number of cases identified in/connected to each school. A list of schools is posted, but that list doesn’t specify how many cases have been identified at each one.
The rationale? Since everyone is learning from home and physically distanced, it shouldn’t matter.
Unsurprisingly, Nova Scotia Parents for Public Education (twitter: @NSPFPE) called this move into question earlier this week- for good reason.
Nova Scotia Parents For Public Education News Release, April 29/21
At issue is that parents, students & staff now have no idea whether community spread is an issue at their site.
This change in reporting also coincides with a change in public health orders for several schools. Where, previously, students and staff at schools who were not identified as close contacts of known cases were “encouraged” to get tested but required to continue attending so long as they were asymptomatic while waiting for their results to come back. In contrast, at several schools where cases have been identified within the last ten days, entire staff populations (who were not identified as close contacts of the known case) have instead been ordered to get tested AND to remain in isolation until test results are known.
Nova Scotians can accept that as the epidemiology evolves, so too must Public Health’s approach. We’ve seen it happen throughout the pandemic. Dr. Strang has earned an incredible amount of trust because he has done so actively and often, and because those changes have worked.
So, changing protocols because of changing epidemiology isn’t what many families & staff are having difficulty swallowing.
What isn’t making sense to so many connected to schools are new reporting protocols that appear to shield actual data from view that directly impacts students & staff at a growing number of sites in a growing number of communities.
Everyone understands that no one has a right to know the identity of COVID positive individuals at their school site, but it raises serious questions about transparency in the public interest when families & staff aren’t allowed to know/see the actual case counts.
More plainly, the question feels like this: if there are multiple positive cases at the school my child attends/I work at and that number is growing, don’t I have a right to know that information?
Vast numbers of families and staff members feel strongly that they do.
At this point, we all know that whether schools re-open hinges on whether the next 10 days drive steep declines in positive case numbers. We know remote learning is a major component of achieving that goal, which is why staff & students are doing their part with all their hearts!
Still, the truth about COVID-19 in Nova Scotia’s schools must continue to be told plainly, clearly & consistently so that all families & school staff understand, based on trustworthy data, whether a return to in person learning is safe or whether remote learning must continue.
With close to 1/6 Nova Scotia schools with at least 1 positive case in communities from Metro to Cape Breton, and with 1/6 of all current positive cases impacting youth 16 & under, it’s a terrible time to jerk the wheel on how cases in schools are reported.
After students & staff have worked so hard to keep one another safe at schools with minimal protections since September, they deserve consistent reporting so they can be confident whether returning to in person learning is safe & possible at their site/in their area.

On #MLKDay: A Reflection

While Canada does not observe #MLKDay, given the common and continued struggle of our country with anti-Black racism, it remains an important moment to reflect and be honest about where we are, and how much further we have to go towards true justice

As a junior high student, I read every book and essay Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote. Gripped by the power of his “I Have a Dream” speech, even then I came to realize through reading on that reducing his message to that moment was lazy and wrong. He had so much more to say, if only I would listen.

So many white people watch the Youtube video of that speech and romanticize King, his ideas and message. Those of us who do that do him, do justice, do the Black community a great harm and disservice. His message was loving, but sharp and honest. And, we killed him for it.

On August 28, 1963, King delivered “I Have a Dream.” It didn’t make him more accepted or beloved by whites. In fact, at the time of his assassination less than five years later on April 4, 1968, King was hated MORE by whites.

He was especially hated for advocating for policy that would address the harms of racism- policy that came with a price tag of billions powerful whites would oppose violently, ultimately creating a popular view that he was an enemy of America to many whites.

If, like me, you’re white, I challenge you to sit down and read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (1963), which King wrote to white clergy, supposed “allies” of the Civil Rights movement. It remains sobering and relevant for us “allies” today.

As a white leader trying to do the work of becoming anti-Racist, I’m spending today with these words to reflect on what needs to change in me so that justice can prevail.

I encourage you to do the same so we can better do our part to make the dream of justice a reality.

Looking for classroom resources that go beyond “I Have a Dream” on MLK Day? Why not check out’s Teaching MLK With the Social Justice Standards.

#withwozney for NSTU President

This is an odd time to be campaigning for re-election!

With school visits ruled out (a smart, responsible decision by the Provincial Executive!) and many Locals moving to Zoom based Local meetings this fall, both for public health reasons, this campaign will rely heavily on virtual presence and interaction.

For those interested in displaying your support for my re-election, here’s a profile pic you can use on social media.If you’re posting in support, please consider using #withwozney when you do.

My focus remains on providing sound, effective, strong leadership for NSTU members and public education. I believe that’s the kind of campaigning members truly expect and can support.

Always happy to hear from and interact with members to be able to do the best job possible.

Feel free to follow/reach out at:

FB: @withwozney
Twitter: @withwozney
Instagram: @withwozney

Thanks all!