The provincial government announced today that they are investing an additional $736 million in public education for the 2020-21 school year increasing the total investment to more than $25.5 billion.
This funding, through the Grants for Student Needs (GSN) program, represents the largest investment in public education in Ontario’s history, as well as record-high investments in special education, mental health and well-being, according to the provincial government.
“We are investing more in our students to ensure they are safe, and well prepared to hit the books beginning in September. As we review all scenarios related to the COVID-19 outbreak, our government is supporting each and every school board in the province to ensure our students and educators have the resources available for a successful year,” said Minister of Education Stephen Lecce.
Lecce (speaking virtually) discussed the plan, as well information on reopening schools this September, during Friday’s COVID-19 press update with Premier Doug Ford.
I’m going live with Premier @fordnation to discuss our plan to return to class in September. Safety is our guiding principle.
Tune in. 👇https://t.co/AaEfiGfEmw
— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) June 19, 2020
Ontario’s average per-pupil funding amount has reached $12,525, which is an increase of $250 over the previous year.
All 72 district school boards in Ontario are projected to have increases to their GSN. The new $213 million student-centric Supports for Students Fund will support special education, mental health and well-being, language instruction, Indigenous education, and STEM programming.
The money can also be used for additional critical staffing needs during the return to school in September, including hiring custodians as well as education assistants for students who need support.
According to Lecce, the province is investing in new supports “for marginalized and racialized students” to give hope and confidence to their families that the province will work to unlock their full potential and remove barriers to their success.
In addition to the GSN, Ontario is providing funding for the Priorities and Partnerships Fund (PPF), which can help school boards provide critical resources for curricular, extra-curricular, and wrap-around supports. In the upcoming school year, the PPF is projected to be over $300 million, funding approximately 150 initiatives to support students.
At the press conference, Lecce said that the province is requesting school boards across Ontario prepare various plans for September, which include stronger health protocols, the continuation of remote learning (in case school closures are extended or if parents choose not to send their children back to school), and a hybrid in-class with online learning.
As such, they don’t expect class sizes to exceed 15 students at a time — although Friday’s announcement brought about even more questions and comments on social media.
#BREAKING Ontario announcing back to school plans. Includes in-class learning, at home learning or a combo of both. Classes capped at 15 students, bubble with each other and 1 teacher a day. Premier says parents can keep kids learning at home if uncomfortable with plans.#onted
— Manny Paiva (@paivatheway) June 19, 2020
Stephen Leece has finally figured out a way to use COVID to bring his America online classes into Ontario. Teachers will have roughly 10 to 15 students that will either have to learn at home, or schools will have to magically expand to create new rooms with no teachers for them.
— GrumpyGrannie (@grumpy_grannie) June 19, 2020
Lecce added that the province understands the value of human connection and knows that kids need to be in class.
“Should Ontario continue to flatten the curve, and continue to make gains, we will allow school boards to move closer to a conventional classroom experience, with stringent health and safety protocols in place,” Lecce noted.