A number of education programs are expanding this year, including SchoolsPlus, which has added four sites and is now available in more than 150 schools to help prepare students for personal and academic success. “I am pleased to welcome back all our students and school staff to what I am sure will be another successful school year filled with opportunity,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey. SchoolsPlus brings services like mentoring, homework support and health programs, including mental health clinicians, into schools where students and families can easily access them. Another focus for this year is on math and literacy at all levels. “We are working with teachers and students to provide them with the tools they need to be successful in math and literacy,” said Ms. Casey. “The department along with the school boards, are coming together to ensure that Nova Scotia’s students have the skillset and knowledge required to be successful when they leave the public school system and pursue other workforce or post-secondary opportunities.” The Options and Opportunities (O2) program is also expanding to provide more students with opportunities to explore different careers. It is now offered in 63 high schools with more than 2,400 students across the province. Skilled trades will continue to play an important role in education with new skilled trades centres opening this year. Students from Glace Bay High School and Cole Harbour District High School will benefit from hands-on training as they experience skilled trades first-hand. Students and parents will also notice improved report cards this year with personal comments that identify students’ strengths and areas to improve as well as suggestions to support student learning at home. The report cards also update some comments sections, give percentage grades for grades 7 and 8, as well as other changes to Primary report cards. About 118,000 students are enrolled at 400 schools across Nova Scotia. “I wish all students and teachers a safe and happy school year where everyone will have an opportunity to explore, learn and grow,” said Ms. Casey.