Government to spend $7M on outdoor learning for N.S. elementary schools

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The province and the federal government are offering up money to help elementary schools build or improve outdoor learning spaces.  (Craig Paisley/CBC - image credit)
The province and the federal government are offering up money to help elementary schools build or improve outdoor learning spaces. (Craig Paisley/CBC - image credit)

The provincial and federal governments have put aside $7 million to allow Nova Scotia's nearly 250 public elementary schools to create new outdoor learning spaces or enhance existing ones.

The money will allow all elementary schools in the province to have outdoor spaces, said Bernadette Jordan, minister of fisheries and oceans, who spoke at a news conference announcing the money.

"Each of these close to 250 schools will receive funding to create a space that meets the needs of their community, this work will begin immediately," said Jordan.

Public schools can use the money to build things such as a school garden, an outdoor seating area, outdoor shelters like tents for shade, and outdoor performance areas.

In a news release, provincial Education Minister Derek Mombourquette said one of the lessons learned from the pandemic is how valuable learning outdoors can be.

Education Minister Derek Mumbourquette says learning outside has positive mental, physical and academic benefits.
Education Minister Derek Mumbourquette says learning outside has positive mental, physical and academic benefits. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

"I believe being outdoors is good for everyone," said Tracy Rodgers, a member of the PTA at Burton Ettinger Elementary in Halifax.

"Students coming outdoors to learn, they calm down, being able to listen to the outdoor noises, they're more attentive they absorb information more. The sunshine is good for them. But it's also an opportunity to learn about nature," she said.

To qualify for funding, schools will have to show that the spaces they want to build or improve meet specific criteria.

"Schools will be asked to ensure that the spaces are aligned with curriculum and opportunities for physical activity, and include elements connected to priorities such as biodiversity, inclusive education, African Nova Scotian heritage and treaty education to promote reconciliation," said a government news release.

Students at Glooscap Elementary in Canning, N.S., started doing outdoor classes back in 2019. In this file photo students catalogue trees they planted.
Students at Glooscap Elementary in Canning, N.S., started doing outdoor classes back in 2019. In this file photo students catalogue trees they planted. (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

The deadline for projects to be completed is Dec. 31, 2021.

Ottawa is investing $5.6 million in the project through its COVID-19 Resilience Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The province is contributing $1.4 million.

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