The Ontario government’s back-to-school plan, developed in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials, is being further enhanced by additional federal investments and resources to support the return to class in the fall. The August 26 federal announcement provides $381 million to Ontario, on top of the nearly $900 million provided by the province to support provincial back-to-school plans.
“Ontario’s investments lead the nation in supporting priorities like more cleaning, physical distancing, testing, and hiring of staff to ensure a safe reopening of our schools this September,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Today’s investment by the Federal government complements the already landmark investments made by our government in support of safe and healthy schools in Ontario.”
The federal funding will support several priority provincial initiatives:
Reopening Plan Implementation – $200 million
- $100 million to complement the health and safety components of school reopening plans, in consultation with local public health units, including the hiring of custodians, HVAC, improvements, internet connectivity for students and other local needs.
- $30 million to support additional PPE for schools.
- $70 million for the temporary hiring of educators as required.
Student Transportation – $70 million
- $44.5 million in support of the Driver Retention Program (DRP).
- $25.5 million for route protection and to help reduce the number of students on buses.
Special Education and Mental Health Supports Enhancement – $12.5 million
- Will allow boards to hire and train additional staff and provide more mental health supports for students.
Additional Public Health Nurses – $12.5 million
- Supports up to 125 additional nursing positions in public health units across the province to help schools manage potential COVID-19 cases.
Remote Learning – $36 million
- Ensures that every school board offering virtual learning has a dedicated principal and administrative support for both its secondary and elementary virtual schools.
The province is also setting aside $50 million for any future pandemic learning needs, to ensure that Ontario is prepared for every scenario this Fall.
Pending federal approvals in December, the Ministry of Education will announce the second half of the payment later this year for the remainder of the school year.