B.C. will receive $242.36 million as part of the newly created Safe Return to Class fund and school advocates are looking to see how the funds can be used for students. (Stock photo)

School advocates hope new federal funding can assist B.C. schools with more flexibility

B.C. will receive $242.36 million as part of the newly created Safe Return to Class fund

Some school advocates within B.C. are cautiously optimistic following a $2 billion federal government funding announcement for school safety for the coming year.

B.C. will receive $242.36 million as part of the newly created Safe Return to Class fund, an amount in proportion to the provincial population of students, said Dean McGee of the Surrey District Parents Advisory Council, which represents the interest of Surrey parents in the public education system.

“We’re happy to see that it’s split by population, and now we want to see it split by district. We feel (our district) is always left behind.”

In his announcement this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the money can be used for anything from hand sanitizer to remote leaning options. McGee hopes some of the funds can be used for options such as paying for cleaning staff.

He said he’s heard from their district’s superintendent they have already “spent more than $5 million on just cleaners.”

RELATED: Feds roll out $2 billion to fund return-to-school safety amid pandemic

A hybrid model of in-person and remote teaching is also a pressing need, along with larger classrooms with fewer students.

For those students who will attend in-person teaching, he believes more infrastructure such as hand sanitizer and plastic barriers are needed, particularly as many schools within the district use portables.

“There are 8,000 kids in portables – that’s a size of a medium school district in the rest of the province. When those kids go outside, they touch the doorknob to go to the bathroom, hopefully, there’s enough soap or sanitizer there, and then they touch the doorknob to go back in. We want to make sure all of that is up to scratch.”

While the federal funds could go towards more PPE within the classroom, Gord Lau, chair of the Vancouver School District Parent Advisory Council explained it would be better used for developing innovative solutions.

“The instructions from the (Ministry of Education) is that within a classroom, we don’t want kids touching, but you don’t have to practise social distancing. If we have more funding, that’s okay but the messaging (around COVID regulations) is ‘this isn’t required.’ The messaging around ventilation is ‘open a window.’ I don’t think that’s satisfactory.”

Lau added flexibility in the provincial mandate combined with the funding is what is required – particularly for elementary students so that a hybrid solution can be implemented.

“I think that would make parents happier than more funding for PPE.”

For Tracy Humphreys, chair of the BCEdAccess Society which serves students with disabilities and complex learners throughout the province, the funds could help with the flexibility of choice for students and parents alike.

In a recent survey done by the organization, 649 respondents out of 1,102 noted they are considering a different option from public, in-person school.

“I feel the loss of so many students with disabilities is a loss of great diversity and strength in the public education system,” said Humphreys. “The biggest finding we had is that students and parents and caregivers want to stay connected to the community school. Flexibility is key and we feel it is so important.”

In a statement on social media, the BC Teachers’ Federation noted the funds can be used for smaller classes, reduced density, better cleaning and ventilation. They added the province should also provide remote options for students that need them in order to reduce density and support medically complex children and youth.

Black Press Media has reached out to the BCTF for further comment.



photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusEducationSchools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region is at 533

Selkirk College international students get helping hands from Korean moms

We Care K-Moms have been shopping and delivering food to new arrivals

Trail native, Jake Lucchini, signs with Canadiens

Former Smoke Eater captain, Jake Lucchini, signs one-year, two-way deal with Montreal Canadiens

Traffic change in Trail on Wednesday

Workers are performing a required inspection of the Victoria Street Bridge lighting

Free public transit for Greater Trail seniors on Thursday

The no-charge day is to recognize National Senior’s Day

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

FINLAYSON: COVID-related job losses concentrated in urban areas… especially Metro Vancouver

The biggest job losses, in absolute terms, have been in Metro Vancouver

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

Most Read