Ontario has announced that it’s providing an additional 381 million dollars to school boards through the Safe Return to Class Fund. The province says that the “money will be used to further protect students and staff and support online as well as in-person learning.”
The first installment of the funding was announced on August 26, 2020, and is being used to support priority provincial initiatives related to the safe reopening of schools.
The second installment of this funding will be allocated as follows:
- $65 million will be allocated for health and safety costs, such as additional staffing and or board-funded or transportation-related personal protective equipment;
- $50 million will be provided for additional investments in portable HEPA filters and other immediate options to optimize air quality and ventilation in schools;
- $5 million is being provided to support safe and secure student transportation by addressing cost pressures relating to COVID-19;
- $80 million will be provided for electronic devices such as laptops and tablets to help support students in remote learning;
- $62 million is being allocated to support learning gaps and help improve math and reading programs, special education and mental health programming, and improve supports for underserved students;
- $60 million is being designated to support improved online learning, including the development of digital course content and various technological supports;
- $33 million is being set aside to provide expanded testing and additional supports for high priority areas;
- $10 million will be provided to support the Student Nutrition Program to reach remote learners and address COVID-19 delivery challenges;
- $10 million is being provided to continue to support the mental health of all students and support the implementation of the new School Mental Health Ontario Action Kit and funding for Kids Help Phone; and
- $6 million is being allocated in focused funding for equity initiatives, such as those supporting Black, racialized students, Indigenous students and students with special education needs.
It’s good to hear that the Kids Help Phone will be receiving some funding as they have experienced a dramatic increase in calls to their facilities. I reached out to the media representative linked in the press release about the 5 million allocated to “support safe and secure student transportation by addressing cost pressures relating to COVID-19” but have not received a reply at the time of writing this article.
I asked the following;
- How will the funding be used?
- Is it being used to hire more drivers?
- Will it be used to increase bus driver wages?
We will update this article after we receive a reply.
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