Additional Steps to Reopen Schools SafelyPublished on August 14, 2020
It is critically important that Ontario’s kids and their parents know that school is a safe place. Ontario’s plan, which has been widely recognized as the strongest in Canada, was developed in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the COVID-19 Command Table and paediatric experts.
The plan is a living document - it’s meant to be augmented and adapted. We have said we would be flexible and support local school boards to find solutions to local challenges. This is why we announced important updates to our plan to make sure that school boards have all the resources they need to build upon our nation leading plan.
Ontario is allowing boards to make necessary adaptations, such as accessing available community space, hiring more teachers, or fully deploying all non-timetabled teachers. Additional measures include:
o Allowing boards to access up to 2 per cent of their operating budget from their reserves, providing up to $496 million province-wide. For the four boards that do not have sufficient reserves, the government will provide up to an additional $11 million in funding to support school re-opening plans, which is equivalent to 2 per cent.
o Supporting parental choice by providing $18 million to help boards with principal and administrative support for remote learning, to ensure accountability in the system. Students will have several opportunities throughout the school year to re-enter classroom learning.
o Providing up to $50 million to support improved ventilation, air quality and HVAC system effectiveness in schools, to be accessed by school boards following development of plans that maximize use of existing school renewal funding.
The government is also releasing a Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) that ensures students receive a quality, consistent and accessible education system. The PPM has significantly strengthened minimum expectations and ensures an improved experience for those that participate in remote learning. This PPM will provide a consistent approach across the province to ensure students are fully engaged in their learning. We are providing this one-time investment and enabling school boards to use their contingency funds to respond to this truly generational challenge. It is imperative we provide the reassurance to working families that their kids remain safe and that our government will do whatever it takes to protect our most vulnerable.
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