Manitoba investing additional $52 million for back to school plan

By | August 24, 2020

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government has set aside an additional $52 million for its plan to help students get back to school safely, which includes providing masks for students and enhancing sanitization.

Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen made the announcement at a news conference on Monday at Laidlaw School.

With the additional funding, the province has now set aside a total of $100 million for the school reopening plan. A total of $48 million in funds that school divisions already saved was previously announced.

 “As we’ve acknowledged all along in this process, these protocols and these precautions for the safety of our students are going to cost money,” Goertzen said.

“It is why in spring, when savings were being incurred and accrued from the closure of in-class learning, we asked the school divisions to hold on to those savings, knowing that in fall there was going to be a need for them.”

Goertzen said this money will go towards the province’s Safe School Fund and all school divisions will be able to access the funds. The funding will be distributed on a per-student basis, with part of it being held in a reserve for any emerging challenges.

“The funds will be allocated as needed on a per-people basis for the school divisions,” Goertzen said.

“And there will also be funding available for students in the independent schools.”

Goertzen said this money will be used to implement public health measures, including:

  • Providing medical and non-medical masks and personal protective equipment to students, teachers and staff;
  • Enhancing cleaning and sanitization, including increased supplies and custodial staffing;
  • Increasing bus transportation capacity by adding more drivers and routes; and
  • Making sure substitute teachers and educational staff are available to keep schools open.

Goertzen noted it’s expected there will be more absences for both students and staff, which will present human resource-related challenges, and the Safe Schools Fund will help with this.

“The new funding, along with the $48 million that was saved collectively by the school divisions, will mean that there is significant resources available to meet the demands the pandemic is putting on our schools,” Goertzen said.

“We will, as we’ve been saying all along, continue to work with school divisions to determine what their pressure points are and what challenges lay ahead.”

The minister said the province will share more details with the school divisions in the coming days.

Manitoba schools will reopen in September after closing in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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