The Government of Saskatchewan is handing out a total of $51 million in the first round of funding for COVID-19 related expenses.
On the day students headed back to class, Education Minister Gord Wyant announced 46 school division applications have been approved for the funding. Of the total, $41 million is new provincial funding and the rest is from remaining school division savings.
The money has been divided into $19.1 million going towards sanitization including 191 staff, $6 million for equipment and furniture, $13.2 million for immunocompromised student supports including 150 teachers and staff, $9.5 million for additional distance learning including 102 teachers and staff and $4 million for technology upgrades.
A total of 443 custodial staff and teachers are expected to be hired in addition to the 200 staff projected to be hired from increased education funding in the provincial budget.
“We know a number of school divisions have taken steps to engage additional staff, not just with respect to sanitation but with respect to providing distance learning. This additional funding will provide security that school divisions need.”
Usually, school funding is determined through enrollment numbers and money would be redistributed once they’ve been submitted to the ministry on September 30th. The ministry is delaying the redistribution until January 29th once enrollments are better known.
Wyant says the majority of the six million masks have been distributed to school divisions and the ministry will work with them to determine any PPE needs for the rest of the school year.
“There’s an inventory currently being done in school divisions to see what their additional needs are. A number of school divisions have already purchased masks and shields using their own resources. That was one of the processes we wanted to go through today and through the rest of the week.”
The funding comes from the $150 million COVID contingency fund for education. The next intake for funding applications will be on December 1st. Wyant mentioned a condition on the funding is school division would have to report on how the money was spent. The reports are due in December.