School authorities hoping for some of the COVID-19 school reopening funding promised by the federal government should see some of the money soon. Alberta’s education minister made the announcement Wednesday morning.
Adriana LaGrange said she has directed her department to transfer the funds to school authorities as soon as the province receives it.
She says the federal government will be transferring some of the approximately $262 million promised to Alberta in September, while the rest will be sent “later in the school year.”
“The $250 million will be dispersed to school divisions on a per-student basis so that they can utilize them for the needs that they are identifying, their local needs,” LaGrange said.
As mandated by the feds, that money must be spent on one or more specific COVID-related areas: staffing, adapting learning spaces and personal protective equipment, cleaning and safety considerations for schools and buses, special needs support and online learning and teacher training.
The other $12 million will be given to divisions that offer online learning.
“Some school divisions are experiencing tremendous growth so we want to make sure they have the supports in place and the dollars that they need to make those programs as effective as possible,” LaGrange said.
“I believe this approach is the fairest and most equitable way to disperse the funding.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the $2 billion for schools across the country on Aug. 26 while at an elementary school in Toronto.
While education is a provincial responsibility, Trudeau said he had been hearing from Liberal MPs that parents were still concerned even after the provinces laid out their plans.
“So we said, ‘Let’s give the provinces even more resources to be able to do everything that is necessary to keep our kids safe,”’ Trudeau said last week.
The entirety of the $262 million must be used for COVID-19-related costs, as mandated by the federal government, and LaGrange said her department will be developing a spreadsheet to allow school divisions to keep track of what they spend their share on.
“It’s up to the school divisions to allocate these resources where they see fit.”
According to LaGrange, even private and charter schools across the province will see some of the funding.
“Our safety relaunch strategy, our relaunch program is to ensure every child is safe across Alberta,” she said. “Those dollars are being dispersed equitably right across the whole province.”
Many students across Alberta will be heading back to school over the first week of September. Some school divisions are choosing to delay the start to the school year after positive COVID-19 tests in staff.
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