News / Halifax

What does work-to-rule mean for Nova Scotia students and parents?

Teachers will still teach, but they won't be doing data entry, and extra-curricular activities and field trips will be cancelled.

A student walks into Citadel High School in Halifax on Monday.

Jeff Harper / Metro

A student walks into Citadel High School in Halifax on Monday.

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union will be taking work-to-rule job action starting next Monday if no deal is reached with the province – but what does that mean?

“Basically it means we withdraw services that are not related to actually teaching our students,” NSTU president Liette Doucet said on Monday.

“We are going to get back to what teachers should be doing, and that is it.”

Talks between the union and the province broke off on Friday a month after teachers voted overwhelmingly in favour or job action, putting them in a legal strike position as of Dec. 3. Dec. 5 is the next day of school, so the work-to-rule action will start then.

The action was one of a few options for the union: it could’ve done a full walk-out, rotating walk-outs, or opted to do a gradually increasing work-to-rule, but the executive settled on full work-to-rule from the start.

“We want to really point out that many of the tasks that teachers are required to do every day are causing them to lose time for preparing for their students, for developing lessons, for teaching their students, for ensuring student success,” Doucet said.

For now, Doucet can’t say how long the job action will last, and said it could change to a full walk-out depending on “how things are going in bargaining.”

“Our work-to-rule campaign can change at any time, too: things can be added, things can be taken away. It’s a bit of a fluid situation,” she said.

“Right now, all we know for sure is that work-to-rule will begin on Monday, and until further notice, that is what we need to plan for.”

Here’s what work-to-rule means for students and parents:

  • Teachers will still be teaching, covering the outcomes and giving their own assessments, but won’t be doing provincial or board assessments. They’ll also be asked not to do any of that work at home.
  • This semester’s exams, report cards and parent-teacher days will all be completed by the end of this week, so they’ll be unaffected, but depending on the length of the job action, next semester’s could be.
  • All extra-curricular activities involving teachers or other NSTU members will be cancelled, including Christmas concerts, sports team practices and games, clubs, and after-school programs.
  • Teachers won’t be collecting money from students or fundraising, and field trips will be cancelled. The effect this will have on trips later this year that are fundraising now – like Europe trips for high school students – is unknown.
  • Teachers will get to school 20 minutes before classes, and leave 20 minutes after the end of the school day, as required by their contract.
  • Teachers won’t be doing clerical duties or data entry, and will be doing attendance on paper.

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