Hamilton school boards to receive slice of $380 million for in-person learning, province says

·2 min read

Hamilton’s school boards will receive a slice of $380 million in funding from the province for reopening schools later in January.

On Friday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government will “unlock” funding received from the federal government and distribute it to boards across Ontario in the coming weeks.

The funding is intended for schools to upgrade ventilation systems, buy more personal protective equipment and introduce asymptomatic testing in schools, among other expenses.

“This will be sent out to school boards so that schools can stay open when they’re reopened in January,” said Lecce on Friday.

Dawn Danko, chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, said the funding will be useful for keeping schools safe. She said the board is still waiting for details on how much of the funding it will receive.

“The real goal is to avoid that structure where schools reopen and then cases continue to climb and we see that we have to close them again,” Danko said.

“We appreciate the ministry is looking to support us by putting more safety measures in place.”

On Thursday, the province announced elementary schools will remain closed to in-person attendance for two more weeks as the province extends lockdown measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario.

Schools across southern Ontario are now poised to reopen on Jan. 25 instead of Jan. 11, as initially planned.

Chief medical officer Dr. David Williams announced the new lockdown measures on Thursday, indicating that rising cases of COVID-19 among young people informed their decision to abandon their earlier plans to reopen classes earlier in January.

“We have to defer in-class attendance for the next two weeks because we want the schools to stay open when we’re able to reopen them,” Williams said.

Jacob Lorinc, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator