After a controversy erupted in New Brunswick earlier in the year over the national anthem being heard in classrooms, the Nova Scotia government asked school boards to ensure O Canada is played daily.

Tonight, Halifax regional school board will review its own policy on the practice at its first regular meeting since its summer break.

The draft policy includes instructions for all schools in the district to play the anthem daily, to ensure proper etiquette is displayed while it is being played and to allow students to opt out if their parents make such a request.

Education Department spokesman Peter McLaughlin said most schools were already playing or singing the anthem daily, but then-minister Judy Stretch wanted to ensure the practice was being carried out uniformly across the province.

"The minister asked that boards develop policies with regard to that and they’re all in various stages of that exercise right now," he said.

Mr. McLaughlin said it’s up to individual school boards to determine how to handle students who wish not to participate.

"They’re drafting their own policies to meet the needs of the community."

Mr. McLaughlin said the department feels it’s important that the anthem be played or sung each day in schools because it’s in keeping with the promotion of good citizenship.

"The national anthem underscores the importance of citizenship and pride in their country and province. Citizenship underlies a lot about what public education is about."

The issue of playing O Canada in classrooms made national news after a principal in Springfield, N.B., banned the anthem in his elementary school and a parent later threatened him.

Principal Erik Millett later resigned.

Mr. McLaughlin said the notoriety of the New Brunswick case "obviously played a part in the department’s thinking" when it made the policy mandatory across the province.
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