Saskatchewan receives $74.9M in federal funding for safe reopening of schools

The Saskatchewan government says upwards of $150 million in funding is now available to school divisions to ensure a safe return to classrooms. Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

The Saskatchewan government says preparations continue to ensure a safe return to the classroom for students across the province when classes resume amid the coronavirus pandemic on Sept. 8.

That includes allocating millions of dollars to school boards to offset increased costs.

The Canadian government announced Wednesday $2 billion in funding to the provinces to ensure the safe reopening of schools.

Saskatchewan will receive $74.9 million of those funds.

“As we work with our sector partners to ensure a safe return to school, we know that there will be increased costs associated with staffing, preparation and supplies,” Education Minister Gordon Wyant said Wednesday in a statement.

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“With the federal government’s contribution, there is now up to $150 million available to our education sector for costs associated with a safe return to school.”

The money available includes $40 million in new education funding previously announced by the province in its COVID contingency fund and $40 million in funds available through school division savings.

The Saskatchewan NDP is urging the province to use the new funding to reduce class sizes to minimize the risk of coronavirus outbreaks.

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“Today, Education Minister Gord Wyant has finally acknowledged that COVID-19 means additional costs for schools. He has been handed a lifeline for his failed back-to-school plan, but the clock is ticking — he must not let Saskatchewan families down again,” said education critic Carla Beck.

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“Despite the concerns raised by families, educators, and medical professionals, they did nothing to address class size as crucial weeks passed.”

Officials said application intakes for the funds will take place throughout the year, with the first intake closing at the end of the day Aug. 27.

As part of the province’s Safe Schools Plan, school boards are required to release each school’s specific plan on Wednesday, which can be accessed on respective school division’s websites.

It will also be communicated to parents and students by the end of Wednesday and include details such as public health measures, safety precautions in schools, cohorting and school start and end times.

The province also said the first shipment of the six-million masks it procured has been sent to all 27 school divisions and the second shipment will be delivered during the first week of school.

Full-face shields will also be available for all school staff.

The Saskatchewan government said it will update the Safe Schools Plan, as necessary, based on the advice of the province’s chief medical health officer.


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