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Federal funding will help with BC school restart

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 3:09 PDT, Thu September 3, 2020

BC Education Minister Rob Fleming announced plans for federal education funding today, which include expanded health and safety measures and increased capacity for remote learning.

“Our province is taking the best, science-based public health advice and planning to have as many children as possible back in classrooms this fall, which is why we have been talking with the federal government about the need for more resources for our schools,” said Fleming. “We are appreciative of this additional support to provide more resources to districts and independent school authorities, so they can continue providing ongoing learning opportunities in a safe way.”  

The federal government is providing $242.4 million in one-time funding for the 2020-21 school year, with the first half of the payment expected to be received in September. Funding will be allocated to public school districts based primarily on student enrolment. BC’s Ministry of Education is initially allocating $101.1 million to school districts, $8.0 million to independent schools and reserving $12.1 million for emerging COVID-19 related issues between September and December 2020. The ministry is expected to receive up to an additional $121.2 million in January, which will be allocated out at that time.

The funding will support school districts to hire and train more teachers and support staff for remote learning; purchase additional software licences, electronic course materials and textbooks; purchase computers or tablets; and create Wi-Fi hubs and internet access in remote and Indigenous communities.

School districts and independent schools will be able to spend the funding in the following areas, based on local needs:


Learning resources and supports

• Implementation of online and remote learning options

• Hiring additional teachers and staff

• Training for staff

• On-call teachers costs and other on-call staff

• Mental health support for students and staff


Health and safety

• Increasing staff and covering salary costs for additional hours needed to meet health and safety guidelines in schools

• Improving air systems in schools, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements, portable air scrubbers and increased utility costs

• Increasing hand hygiene, including additional handwashing and hand sanitizing stations, installing touchless faucets or additional supplies

• Installing plexiglass and other barriers, providing outdoor learning spaces, and adapting classrooms and school buses to minimize physical contact

• Purchasing additional cleaning supplies such as sprayers or fogger machines for frequent cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces

• Purchasing additional masks, face shields or other PPE as needed


Transportation

• Cover additional transportation costs to have fewer students on buses and/or to accommodate new school schedules and additional routes

• Supporting alternative transportation strategies, such as assisting with gas costs for parents who transport their children to school


Before- and after-school child care

• Opening up more space and covering the cleaning costs for before- and after-school care so that groups can be smaller and to ensure students can remain within their learning groups

• Additional staff to support before- and after-school care during the pandemic


For more information on back-to-school plans, learning groups and health and safety guidelines, click here. 

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