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Kingston school board sends letter to province asking for funds for COVID-19 measures

Click to play video 'More questions then answers when it comes to the re-opening of schools' More questions then answers when it comes to the re-opening of schools
WATCH: Reopening of schools -- more questions than answers in Kingston, with only weeks to go – Jul 29, 2020

As summer nears the midway mark, school boards across Ontario continue to work on a variety of reopening plans for the new school year amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

Minister of Education Stephen Lecce is expected to announce a plan on Thursday. Options on the table are full-time in-class learning, full-time online learning or a combination of the two.

Limestone District School Board trustees say more money will be needed from the provincial government whichever model is used. The board says the bottom-line is maintaining student and staff safety and well-being during any return to school and that will come at a cost.

The Limestone District School Board has sent a letter to Lecce telling him no matter what model is chosen — the board will need more money to pay for it.

“That there will be requirements for appropriate personal protective equipment for staff and students, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, equipment, and transportation requirements,” said Suzanne Ruttan, chair of the board of trustees.

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“Each of these items requires adequate and reliable funding. Although we are awaiting direction on PPE requirements, we are estimating a cost of up to $3 million for our school board alone.”

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Coronavirus: Ontario to reveal school reopening plan next week, education minister says – Jul 23, 2020

Beyond the board’s financial concerns, teachers are also looking for answers.

A small group mainly elementary school teachers showed support on Wednesday for a provincial initiative put on by a number of organizations including “Ontario Families for Public Education.” They took their concerns to Kingston and the Islands MPP Ian Arthur’s constituency office.

Jane Roberts, president of the Limestone Local of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, says the lack of clarity on return-to-school plans is a big problem.

“It is a huge concern. Who knows which way the government is going to go — we haven’t been able to pin this government down on anything really. So it’s anyone’s guess on what they’re going to do.”

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The MPP wasn’t at his office but an assistant or Arthur’s read a statement of support.

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B.C. teachers still concerned about back to school – Jul 28, 2020

In the meantime the clock keeps ticking. Lecce’s office told Global News that Thursday’s plan will include additional supports to keep students and staff safe.