Based on the latest public health data and by investments, the province is providing direction to school boards, students and parents on health and safety protocols. Guidance includes direction for students, including secondary students who will return to in-person learning daily for the full school day, remote learning, masking and cohorting guidance for students (Grade 1 to 12) and staff as well as guidance around extra-curricular activities. While public health indicators give us reason for optimism, COVID-19 continues to pose a threat. By making available more than $1.6 billion in resources to school boards throughout the province for this coming year, our government is keeping kids as safe as possible. This will provide schools with access to a wide range of supports for student mental health, the hiring of additional staff, school-focused nurses in public health units, asymptomatic testing, remote learning technology, and supporting health and safety measures in student transportation.
With the return of in-person learning, students will be able to benefit from direct interaction with their friends and teachers. While following retractions, it will also allow for a more normal school year with extra curricular activities, like sports and field trips – critical to the mental health and well-being of students.
Throughout the 2021-22 school year, the Ministry of Education will continue to work with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local public health units to assess key indicators (such as vaccination rates and community transmission) to inform and update provincial guidance for schools and child care as needed. This could lead to easing or strengthening health and safety measures across the province, or at the regional level.
Our government is investing more in public education than any government in Ontario history for the third straight year. Under our plan, we are making over $2B in additional resources available, so that we continue to keep students and staff safe, including:
$1.6 billion in COVID-19 resources,
- $304.0 million to support staffing
- $79.6 million in time-limited supports through the language grant
Health and Safety
- $65.5 million for student transportation
- $29.4 million for operating costs related to ventilation improvements (i.e., increased number of filters required, increased electricity usage/costs, etc.)
- The government will also continue to provide required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and critical supplies and equipment. It is estimated that for the 2021-22 school year, these products could value up to $450 million.
Support for Students
- $49.0 million for special education, mental health and well being, and equity initiatives.
- $20.0million for re-engaging students and reading assessment supports.
- $20.0 million in connectivity supports for remote learning technology.
- $14.9 million in continued funding to support technology related costs.
- $10.1 million to support mental health to foster the continued learning and well-being of students.
$85.5 million to support learning recovery in math and reading, and
$561 million increase in the Grants for Student Needs (GSN), rising to $25.6 billion.
Our government knows these are trying times, that is why we have provided Ontario families with $1.8 billion in direct financial support. As well, we have made unprecedented investments of over $80M to enhance capacity and support student mental health in the 2021-22 school year.
Our government announced additional funding of $25 million to further improve ventilation in schools as students return for in-person learning this fall. This additional funding, which brings the net new investments in school ventilation to $600 million, will ensure that all occupied classrooms, gyms, libraries and other instructional spaces without mechanical ventilation have standalone high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units in place when students are back in class, including Junior and Senior Kindergarten classrooms in mechanically ventilated schools to recognize that the youngest learners will not be wearing masks in the classroom.