$12 million in reserved federal funds released to B.C. school districts: ministry

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VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it is releasing about $12 million to school districts across the province to further support the COVID-19 response.

The money is part of the $242.4 million in one-time federal funding for pandemic safety measures.

A statement from the Ministry of Education says almost half of the federal funds has been allocated to B.C.'s public and independent school districts since September.

The $12.1 million was reserved for "emerging needs," and the statement says it is being released to pay for extra cleaning supplies, protective equipment or more staff and cleaning if a COVID-19 exposure occurred at a school.

The ministry says the remainder of the pandemic response funding totals $121.2 million and is expected to be available to public and independent school districts in January.

Cash from the first round of funding was used to hire 1,868 new staff members, purchase almost 2.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment and install or upgrade thousands of hand hygiene and washing stations and air or ventilation filters in schools.

The federal funding adds to the $45.6 million provided to districts by the provincial government.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press