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Teachers and parents rally for more details on back-to-school plan (3 photos)

If all goes as planned, students and staff will be back in classrooms in just under four weeks

Concerned teachers and parents joined together outside Province House Monday for a rally to push for more details on the province's back-to-school plan. 

Last month, Education Minister Zach Churchill unveiled a plan to have all public school students return to class on September 8.

It calls for the realignment of classrooms to create more space, however Dr. Robert Strang admitted desks likely wouldn't be the recommended safe social distance of 2 metres from each other.

Classrooms will be considered bubbles where those students will have lunch and recess together.

Masks will be mandatory in school buses and in high school common areas, including hallways, but they not in classrooms.

There will be enhanced cleaning, no access to lockers and a lot of handwashing for staff and students.

However, high school teacher Christine Emberley with Educators for Social Justice Nova Scotia said she and her colleagues have a list of issues they don't feel are being addressed by the province.

"There are concerns about masks not being mandatory in schools, classrooms not having enough room but being full of students," Emberley said. "We have concerns about movement in the hallways when teachers have to go from one class to another, when students are moving from one class to another."

Teachers also want more details on how lunch and recess will work, along with how learning centre students will bubble with their classmates.

"They go in and out of classrooms very often, so the bubbling would be quite a bit different for them," Emberley explained.

With just over four weeks until the first day of school, Emberley is hoping the provincial government starts ramping up communication so teachers and other school staff know what they can expect, including details on personal protective equipment (PPE).

Churchill said the province has secured masks, hand sanitizers and other PPE, but Emberley still doesn't have exact details on what and how much she can expect for herself and her students.

"Not just having one mask, but having multiple masks, because if you take your mask off to eat, you need a new mask going back on," she said.

"We would love to know exactly what kind of events would trigger a school-wide shutdown or a region-wide shutdown so that we're not playing catchup," Emberley added. "We would like to know exactly where this information is going to come from."

When classes resume in just under a month, Emberley hopes to be able to feel as safe going to work as she would going to the mall.

She said teachers are more than willing to do whatever enforcement of the health and safety rules will be required in the upcoming school year, "as long as we're provided with the same kind of safety equipment that any other workplace expects."

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