British Columbia’s Minister of Education Rob Fleming announced Thursday that the first half of the $242 million in federal funding for back-to-school will come in September.
The rest of the funding will come in January.
B.C.’s Ministry of Education is initially allocating $101.1 million of the federal funding to public school districts, $8.0 million to independent schools and reserving $12.1 million for emerging COVID-19 related issues between September and December 2020.
The ministry is expected to receive up to an additional $121.2 million in January, which will be allocated out at that time.
B.C.’s districts will choose how to spend the money.
British Columbia has been allotted a total $242.3 million from the federal government to help with safety initiatives as students return to school this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal investment is part of the Safe Return to Class Fund, announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month. Trudeau’s Liberals are putting up to $2 billion in an effort to support provinces and territories in their efforts to safely resume in-school instruction.
The province is also investing $45.6-million for a safe restart for B.C.’s schools.
“Our province is taking the best, science-based public health advice and planning to have as many children as possible back in classrooms this fall, which is why we have been talking with the federal government about the need for more resources for our schools,” Minister of Education Rob Fleming said.
“We are appreciative of this additional support to provide more resources to districts and independent school authorities, so they can continue providing ongoing learning opportunities in a safe way.”
Fleming said the funding will support school districts to hire and train more teachers and support staff for remote learning; purchase additional software licences, electronic course materials and textbooks; purchase computers or tablets; and create Wi-Fi hubs and internet access in remote and Indigenous communities.
School districts and independent schools will be able to spend the funding in the following areas, based on local needs:
Learning resources and supports
- Implementation of online and remote learning options
- Hiring additional teachers and staff
- Training for staff
- On-call teachers costs and other on-call staff
- Mental health support for students and staff
Health and safety
- Increasing staff and covering salary costs for additional hours needed to meet health and safety guidelines in schools
- Improving air systems in schools, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements, portable air scrubbers and increased utility costs
- Increasing hand hygiene, including additional handwashing and hand sanitizing stations, installing touchless faucets or additional supplies
- Installing plexiglass and other barriers, providing outdoor learning spaces, and adapting classrooms and school buses to minimize physical contact
- Purchasing additional cleaning supplies such as sprayers or fogger machines for frequent cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces
- Purchasing additional masks, face shields or other PPE as needed
- Cover additional transportation costs to have fewer students on buses and/or to accommodate new school schedules and additional routes
- Supporting alternative transportation strategies, such as assisting with gas costs for parents who transport their children to school
Before- and after-school child care
- Opening up more space and covering the cleaning costs for before- and after-school care so that groups can be smaller and to ensure students can remain within their learning groups
- Additional staff to support before- and after-school care during the pandemic
The federal government has committed to provide all provinces and territories $2 billion in new federal funding to support the adaptation of the education sector to ensure a safe return to class in the fall.
Watch Fleming’s announcement below:
Minister of Education, Rob Fleming, will provide an update on how the $242.3 million in federal funding builds and expands on plans for a safe back to school.
As it stands, students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 are set to return to facilities in British Columbia on September 10.
The Province’s back-to-school plan has raised concerns from teachers, parents, and students over the last several weeks, despite being approved by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
The BC Teachers’ Federation has been particularly critical of the plan, calling on Fleming for smaller classes, stricter mask regulations and more virtual learning options.
“The government and the office of the provincial health officer have done excellent work on enhancing contact tracing strategies, but our members are rightly concerned that not enough has been done on preventing the transmission of the virus in schools,” claimed BCTF president Teri Mooring in August.
The plan for a return to school includes “cohorts” or learning groups (a group of students and staff who remain together throughout the year) to reduce the number of close interactions.
Learning groups will include no more than 60 people in elementary and middle school. There will be a maximum of 120 people in secondary.
Each school district has come up with its own strategy in an effort to navigate these learning groups and reduce the number of students in the school at one time, posting plans online at the end of August.
The province has also mandated masks for middle school students, secondary school students and faculty when in high-traffic areas, such as hallways or common spaces.
For more info on back-to-school plans, learning groups and health and safety guidelines, visit: