Joint investments by Canada and Ontario will upgrade infrastructure in schools to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and keep students and staff safe. The federal and provincial governments are providing $27.6 Million to Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes area school boards to upgrade infrastructure at local schools to protect against COVID-19. The funding is being provided through the COVID-19 Reliance Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
The funding for these school boards will support building retrofits, updates and upgrades to their schools and co-located childcare facilities. Projects can include HVAC renovations to improve air quality, installing water bottle refilling stations to improve access to safe drinking water, and space re-configurations such as new walls and doors to enhance physical distancing.
Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said, “Ontario’s government is focused on protecting the lives of students, staff, and their families. We put a plan into action that leads the nation — delivering air ventilation improvements to over 95% of schools, 7,000 additional staff, and improved cleaning, testing, and stronger screening.
Minister Lecce, also addressed the issue of vaccines and said, “We also recognize that in addition to these school-based infrastructure investments, Ontario’s plan to defeat this pandemic includes vaccines for school staff. We have prioritized education staff in high priority communities and all special education staff across the province, and will expand to all staff as supply becomes available.”
Supported by provincial funding, 95% of Ontario schools have reported upgrades or enhancements to their air filtration systems, with over 40,000 HEPA filters and other ventilation devices in classrooms.
“Schools are inherently a congregate setting, and as a society, the protection of our young people is paramount, said Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
The Government of Canada is investing up to $525.2 million towards these projects through the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The Government of Ontario is contributing $131.3 million to the projects.
Ontario is conducting voluntary targeted testing for asymptomatic students and school staff as an added layer of protection against the transmission of COVID-19.
The funding allocated by School Board is as follows;
Upper Canada District School Board – $10,280,215
Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario – $4,361,820
Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario – $4,035,000
Conseil scolaire de district catholique du Centre-Est de l’Ontario – $8,924,000