Schools in COVID-19 hotspots across the province – Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa – will receive additional funding of $ 35 million to hire more teachers and staff, improve cleaning or provide devices for families who keep their children at home to learn.
Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced on Monday the release of additional federal funds at Queen’s Park.
The government has “spared absolutely no expense when it comes to protecting our children and school staff,” Ford said. “This funding will help provide greater physical distance in classrooms, support small classrooms, and provide more resources for distance learning.”
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the Toronto District School Board, the largest in the country, was entitled to almost $ 9 million, which would “allow it” to hire more than 120 teachers or 100 more guards, or 11,000 more technological devices ”.
The Catholic Council of Toronto will receive approximately $ 3.4 million, the Public Council of Peel approximately $ 5.8 million, the Public Council of York approximately $ 4.8 million, and the Catholic Council of York approximately $ 2 million. , according to the ministry.
Cathy Abraham, President of the Association of Ontario Public School Boards, said, “We appreciate the flexibility to use the funding where boards see the need.
However, she said, although there are areas amid the peaks of COVID-19 and efforts need to be made to slow the spread, “I still like to remind the minister and the ministry that there are still needs across the province. ”
Lecce was asked on Monday about a situation at the Catholic Council in Toronto where a traveling music teacher diagnosed with COVID-19 forced the isolation of many classes in about six schools. Itinerant teachers “generally give these children one hour of instruction,” he noted. “The protocol requires school boards to make an effort to limit mobility, to limit the movement of this staff member between schools, which really reduced that number, say, years ago.
He said, “We have also improved the screening protocol for these same people.
In the legislature, NDP education critic Marit Stiles accused the government of “putting students and staff at risk (and) ignoring the lessons of the first wave of COVID-19” by not providing more funding to boards.
“You don’t have to be an epidemiologist to know that moving staff from class to class and from school to school will increase risk,” Styles said. “There are six schools affected, and these families cannot even take a test today because the test centers are closed.”
Lecce said the government was asking teachers’ unions to “work with us” to “reduce the risk”.
A source told The Star that the teacher in question had violated a number of COVID-19 protocols, including failing to self-test before arriving at school, working with symptoms and incorrectly wearing a mask under the nose at school.
Liz Stuart, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, said the union “tried to engage the government months ago in discussions on how to limit the movement of itinerant and casual teachers”, but had been pushed back.