The provincial government has committed to spending $13.6 million to assist school boards in regions recently moved to the 'red' zone of Ontario's COVID-19 framework.
Premier Doug Ford says the funding will be used to hire more teachers and staff in those regions, as well as expand testing in school communities and launch new online learning portals.
According to a press release issued by the province today, "Ontario is launching targeted voluntary testing of asymptomatic students and staff in regions of the province which currently have a high number of active COVID-19 cases. The Ministry of Education, along with the Ministry of Heath and Ontario Health, are working with participating school boards and local public health units to support implementation. This initiative will make it easier to track and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. It may also inform public health decisions and help to manage outbreaks."
Ford says these initiatives will enhance safety measures for schools and alleviate potential budget shortfalls during COVID-19.
For school boards across the province, the government also says it is providing funding to help alleviate some of the impacts of unexpected enrolment declines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two new online learning portals have been launched in partnership with TVO and TFO. TVO Learn and TFO's IDÉLLO, apprendre à la maison to support students who are self-screening, quarantining at home, or wishing to build their skills by accessing additional educational resources developed by Ontario certified teachers.
The Ministry of Education is also developing a health and safety refresher for students for their first day of class in January 2021. The refresher will include a focus on COVID-19 safety protocols, including hand hygiene and proper masking.
Premier Doug Ford is slated to make an announcement in Mississauga at 1 p.m.
Ford will be joined by Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, to make the announcement.
Last week, Lecce announced there would be no extended winter break this year, after floating the idea a day earlier in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Village Media will carry the livestream, so stay tuned.