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)

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

Just Posted

Jill Mackenzie carefully replaces books on the shelves at the Houston Public Library. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
District approves annual library grant

Craft kits featured for summer reading club

The tradition of Houston Christian School grads giving Bibles to incoming kindergarten students will take place this year, but outdoors and in a modified fashion. (File photo)
Houston Christian School grad day is June 24

Grads themselves have set tone for the day, says teacher

Scott Richmond will be starting as the new vice principal for HSS and TSE. (Submitted/Houston Today)
Houston gets a new vice principal

Scott Richmond takes over from Dwayne Anderson who moved to Smithers

A Pacific Salmon Foundation grant of $3,000 is going towards the tree plantations. (Cindy Verbeek photo/Houston Today)
550 trees planted in Houston through A Rocha

Houston Christian School students and volunteers help with the tree planting

Currently the Houston station has 16 paramedics, two ambulances and one community paramedic vehicle. (File photo)
Retirement of longtime paramedics worries Houston community

“No loss of service,” assures BC Emergency Health Services

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

John Kromhoff with some of the many birthday cards he received from ‘pretty near every place in the world’ after the family of the Langley centenarian let it be known that he wasn’t expecting many cards for his 100th birthday. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Cards from all over the world flood in for B.C. man’s 100th birthday

An online invitation by his family produced a flood of cards to mark his 100th birthday

FILE – Nurse Iciar Bercian prepares a shot at a vaccine clinic for the homeless in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
B.C. scientists to study effectiveness of COVID vaccines in people with HIV

People living with HIV often require higher doses of other vaccines

A 50-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle Tuesday, June 15, crashing through a West Vancouver school fence that surrounds playing children. (West Vancouver Police)
Driver ticketed for speeding near B.C. school crashes into playground fence days later

‘It’s an absolute miracle that nobody was injured,’ says Const. Kevin Goodmurphy

Dr. Réka Gustafson, who is British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer, speaks during a news conference in Vancouver on April 8, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. public health officials prepare to manage COVID-19 differently in the future

Flu-like? Health officials anticipate shift from pandemic to communicable disease control strategies

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Camper the dog was found Wednesday night by someone walking their own dog along Hollywood Crescent. She had gone missing after a violent attack on June 11. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Camper the dog found safe after fleeing violent van attack in Victoria

Young dog was missing for almost a week after incident

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

Most Read