An elementary school in southeast Ottawa has a duck dilemma on its hands. A mother duck has nested in the enclosed courtyard at the school.  And with school done and no way out of the yard, the staff and students fear for the future of the ducklings.

For the past several years, a duck named "Rosie" has hatched her young in the courtyard at Roberta Bondar School.

The school has fed and watered them; they grew and flew away.

But this year, Rosie showed up late and now the ducks are stuck with no way out.  The school bell rings, and hundreds of students at this JK-8 school on Lorry Greenberg Drive come bursting through the doors. 

‘We are so excited school is over,’ they all chime in.

But, in an enclosed courtyard in the middle of the school, something is just beginning; ten ducklings that hatched only yesterday. 

For Kindergarten teacher Barb Nicoll, you couldn't get a better "teaching moment."

‘It's fabulous for kids to see,’ she says, ‘it's like a living zoo right in front of them.’

This isn't the first year the ducks have nested in this courtyard. It goes back several years.  In fact, it is even documented on its own YouTube channel “RBPSducks”, shot and edited by the custodian at the school, Dan “the Duck Man.”

Dan cared for the ducks, putting out a little plastic pool, cleaning it every day, even during his holidays, with help from students.

For the school kids, it has been a labor of love.

‘Every spring we would clean out garden before they came,’ says Grade 6 student Jamieka Evrard.

‘It’s amazing,’ adds Ainsley Lamourie, also in Grade 6, ‘thinking there’s another life form in that tiny garden area there.’

This year, though, Rosie was late in arriving, weeks late.   Now, Dan “the Duck man” has retired, the school is shutting down for the summer and the ducklings have no way out of the enclosed courtyard.

‘I really hope they end up being okay,’ says Ainsley.

The school hopes so, too.  It has called some organizations for help.  Their advice?  Let nature take its course.

‘We do everything we can bring nature into the classroom,’ says Barb Nicoll, ‘to teach kids to respect this world. It’s really tricky to flip it to the other side and let nature take its course’

Clearly, that's how the kids feel, too.

‘Maybe someone else could feed them and give them water,’ says Grade 6 student Rebecca Muscant, ‘but if not, I’m perfectly willing to take it into my own hands if that's what it comes to.’

The school tried to discourage Rosie from nesting in the courtyard this late in the year with rubber snakes and fake iguanas.   She pushed them aside and found another corner for her nest.

Guess you can't teach an old duck new tricks.