Alberta will act briskly to get COVID cash to schools

$262 million has been earmarked for educational upgrades due to COVID-19

The province says it will move quickly to distribute nearly $262 million in funds for schools provided by the federal government.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange made the announcement Wednesday, saying the funds will be released in two phases, the first of which is expected to be this month. The remaining money will be transferred later in the school year.

LaGrange said the funding will be distributed on a per-student basis, and the majority of the funds — $250 million — will be passed on to school authorities.

The money must be used to support additional COVID related costs in one or more the following areas: staffing, adapting learning spaces, personal protective equipment, cleaning and safety considerations for schools and busses, supports for special needs students and online learning and teacher training.

The remaining $12 million will be dedicated to supporting school authorities that are experiencing a large influx in enrolment due to demand for online or distance learning programs.

“I believe this approach is the fairest and the most equitable way to disperse the funding,” LaGrange said, adding she’s directed her department to make sure the money flows to school boards quickly.

Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling was happy the federal and provincial governments recognized the financial strain on schools. He added the association has already outlined seven priorities to improve classroom safety.

“Funding should be focused on significant staffing needs,” he said.

“More teachers are needed to reduce class sizes, substitute teachers need to be available and need to be supported and protected.

“Custodians are needed to ensure that ongoing sanitization occurs throughout the school day and more EAs are needed to help students with learning needs and hygiene.

“Teachers want schools to stay open, so we have to make sure the return to school is done as safely as possible.”

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said Wednesday’s announcement wasn’t entirely helpful, because many school boards have already passed enrolment deadlines.

“Today, tens of thousands of parents waved goodbye to their kids as they dropped them off in over-crowded classrooms,” said Hoffman.

LaGrange called the NDP plan to reduce class sizes by half and add more teachers impractical.

“I do want to reiterate that the plan that was put forward by the NDP is unrealistic,” she said.

“We do not have a pool of tens of thousands of teachers out there waiting to be hired, nor do we have 800 new schools, which would be required to reduce our class sizes in half.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 cases in Alberta up by 153 Wednesday

Central zone sits at 19 active cases

Ponoka invites people to move in with updated incentive program

Policy changed to lower assessment threshold for major renovations

Tractor fire east of Ponoka doused

Fire was Monday afternoon

Ponoka skate park closed due to vandalism, COVID-19 violations

Town says ‘extensive’ damage to be repaired

160 new COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta on Tuesday

Province now has 1,571 active cases

No safe mask option for bearded members, RCMP says, but force is exploring solutions

RCMP says respirator not mandatory in all front-line situations, but sometimes needed to reduce risk

Best of Ponoka Readers’ Choice Awards 2020

Here is your chance to show your support for the outstanding services… Continue reading

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

Albertans the speediest behind wheel, according to national dangerous driving survey

Finder.com looks into dangerous and reckless driving habits across the country

Local Orange Shirt Day celebrations

Sept. 30 is Orange Shirt Day, a day created to raise awareness… Continue reading

Metis pilot Teara Fraser profiled in new DC Comics graphic novel of women heroes

The Canadian pilot’s entry is titled: ‘Teara Fraser: Helping Others Soar’

Leduc Man still missing, RCMP concerned for his well being

31-year-old Ryan Mcleod has been missing since Sept. 10, 2020.

Sylvan Lake family says they are ‘blessed’ to have found their home in Central Alberta

Onsy and Rosemary Tawadrous immigrated to Canada in 2011 and made their home in Sylvan Lake

Wetaskiwin restaurant asks City for help with excessive property damage caused by continuous loiterers

Employees say that they are scared for themselves and their customers.

Most Read