Frequently asked questions from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development

This page may be updated as new information becomes available.

What changes under Work to Rule job action?

The NSTU has characterized various voluntary, contractual and statutory duties under their Work to Rule job action directives as "necessary to pressure the employer to conclude a reasonable collective agreement." The NSTU has advised that teachers will continue to carry out their instructional duties in classrooms with students; focusing on teaching students in a safe learning environment, preparing and implementing lesson plans. The NSTU has directed their members on specific tasks including, but not limited to:

  • Teachers will arrive 20 minutes before school and leave 20 minutes after school
  • Teachers will not communicate on school matters (including with parents) outside the instructional day
  • Teachers will not collect money or organize fundraising activities with students
  • Teachers will not enter information in PowerSchool or TIENET, including information regarding attendance and assessments
  • Teachers will not fill out assessment and diagnostic instruments from external agencies unless required by law
  • Teachers will not administer Department or Board assessments.
  • Teachers will not support or participate in extra-curricular activities
  • Teachers will not permit volunteers to help out in classrooms during instructional time
  • Teachers cannot distribute items ordered by students (books) or as part of a fundraiser (oranges, cookie dough)
  • Teachers will not update school or class websites or e-newsletters
  • Teachers will not attend staff meetings, program planning (IPP) or student success meetings
  • Teachers are not permitted to attend meetings to present the results of a psychoeducational assessment of a student
  • Resource teachers are not expected to complete and send home resource reports and cannot participate in School Program Planning meetings that are part of their instructional day
  • Teachers will not leave school during their scheduled instructional time. This may impact various programs such as O2, Co-Op, CEP, STEP, etc.
  • Teachers are prohibited from writing a letter of reference for a student.
  • In response to book buddies – teachers are instructed to use their discretion to collaborate with colleagues
  • Teachers are not permitted to participate in any planning for sporting events scheduled to take place in 2017
  • Teachers are not permitted to use any forms of electronic communication other than for instruction and assessment purposes.
  • Teachers cannot plan, participate or facilitate Science Fairs (meaning Science Fairs may be cancelled).
  • School assemblies are not allowed to continue
  • Teachers cannot participate, facilitate or organize food drives or fundraising activities
  • Teachers will not participate in professional development provided by the Department or School Board
  • Teachers will not provide extra help to students before, after school or over lunch
  • Teachers will not accept or supervise student teachers
  • School based administrators will not participate in School Advisory Council or parent group meetings unless due to an appeal of student discipline
  • School based administrators will not conduct walk-throughs in classrooms for observation of teachers
  • Teachers and school based administrators will not attend meetings with Board and Department staff

What changed between the weekend and Monday that made schools safe for our children?

In response to questions and concerns coming directly from NSTU member employees, the NSTU made modifications to their Work to Rule job action directives about teacher/principal duties and safety issues. Government has informed the NSTU that we believe the revised directives remove the risk to student safety. Government has been assured that maintaining student safety is a priority shared by all. That assurance is based on the NSTU confirming that teachers and administrators will not ignore their responsibilities as set out in Section 26 ("take all reasonable steps necessary to create and maintain an orderly and safe learning environment") and Section 38 ("ensure that reasonable steps are taken to create and maintain a safe, orderly, positive and effective learning environment") of the Education Act.

Is this a work-to-rule or partial strike?

This is a partial strike. NSTU's Directives for Work to Rule: Job Action counsels NSTU members – both teachers and principals – to take strike action. Not only is the union directing their members to withdraw voluntary services such as participation in extracurricular activities but also from duties as set out both in their Collective Agreement (e.g. attending staff meetings) as well as the Education Act. (administering evaluation and assessment instruments, participating in program planning for children with special needs, assist in the development and implementation of the school improvement plan).

Why should teachers have to do extra duties that are not in their contract and that they are not paid for?

NSTU’s directives to members for their Work to Rule job action prohibits much more than voluntary activities – if members follow their union’s direction, they are breaching duties not only set out in their Collective Agreement but also the Education Act.

Will there be supervision in place before and after school?

Student safety at schools is a priority during any strike action. With the changes to the NSTU directive, principals are not restricted to 20 minutes before and after with respect to their overall safety duties. If you are driving your child to school, they cannot be dropped off more than 20 minutes before classes begin. If you are picking your child up at school, they should be picked up no later than 20 minutes after classes end.

What happens to holiday concerts and extra-curricular activities during the Work to Rule job action?

As part of NSTU’s Work to Rule job action directives, teachers are prohibited from planning, participating in, supervising or facilitating any extra-curricular or voluntary activities. The Directive goes on to state that “This prohibition includes holiday concerts and travel, whether scheduled during instructional time or not.”

The Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation has also stated that all interscholastic sport will be suspended during any strike action. This suspension of sport includes but is not limited to: games, including league (tournament, and exhibition), practices, training opportunities, and special events, without exception.

What about lunch time supervision and breakfast programs?

Now that schools and school boards know what type of strike the NSTU will take, they are now working to see what can be done to continue both lunch time supervision and breakfast programs. You are encouraged to carefully monitor your school boards’ communications through websites, Facebook, social media, and through regular media outlets for ongoing updates.

Is the Excel program still operating?

Yes, children can still participate in the EXCEL before and after school program.

Are the lunch and breakfast programs available?

It is expected to be the status quo, but programs vary at each school and parents should contact their school.

What about Professional Development Days for teachers?

There will be no PD scheduled during the NSTU's work to rule action. You should contact your school board if you require further information.

Are the schools still available for community groups such as Scouts, Guides, sports teams, etc.?

Yes, community use of schools will continue as long as the organization using the school site has a facility use permit completed and on file with the school board.

How can I find out more about negotiations between the province and the NSTU including the offers from both parties?

The province is committed to continue to do everything it can to find a resolution as quickly as possible. For more information on proposals from the province and the NSTU visit the Public Service Sustainability Mandate website.

What about Co-op, Options & Opportunities. IB and other programs?

Questions of this nature surround programming decisions specific to the individual school boards. Please contact your school board for program specific questions.

How can I find out more about how my child will be impacted at school?

You are encouraged to carefully monitor your school boards’ communications through websites, Facebook, social media, and through regular media outlets. The NSTU has advised that they could change their form of strike action at any time. Your school boards will notify you as soon as they are made aware of any potential interruption in the school day. It is important to note that they may have short notice.

We understand that any job action that impacts students can cause concerns for families. We will continue to make you aware of information as it becomes available.

Where can I go for more information about what’s happening in my area?

It is very important to check your school board websites regularly for updates and developments.