The Ontario government is providing $13.6 million to school boards in the Red-Control tier to hire more teachers and staff.
The Ford government is also working to stabilize funding and expanding testing for schools and launch online learning portals. The initiatives are designed to help enhance safety measures in schools and reduce budget shortfalls caused by COVID-19.
“Ensuring the safety of students, teachers and staff is our government’s top priority,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. “This plan is now giving us the flexibility to expand voluntary testing and provide additional funding to support all of our school boards in priority communities.”
The funding will build on the $35 million provided already provided for schools in Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa and is part of the government’s $1.3 billion plan to safely reopen school across the classroom.
This funding will help further enhance safety in school boards in Durham, Halton, Hamilton and Waterloo Region by promoting physical distancing through the hire of more teachers and staff. It will also increase remote learning supports and improve cleaning with the hiring of more custodians.
The government is also offering voluntary testing for asymptomatic students and staff in regions with high numbers of cases. This should make it easier to track and prevent the COVID transmission in school, help inform public health decisions, and manage outbreaks.
Ontario is also assisting schools across the province by providing funding stabilization which will help minimalize some of the impacts of decreased enrollment due to COVID-19, such as staffing reduction, increased class sizes, and cuts to student programs and supports.
Two new learning portals are also being launched to help support children learning from home in grades one to eight. The portals, TVO Learn and IDÉLLO, apprendre à la maison will offer additional educational resources to help support students that are self-screening, quarantining, and trying to build their skills. The resources can be used on their own or in addition to activities provided by classroom teachers and new resources and subjects will be added throughout the year.
The Ministry of Education is also developing health and safety refreshers that discuss COVID-19 safety measures and mental health, as well as provide tips to support mental health and wellness. These will be given or shown to students on their first day of class in January 2021.