Back to school comes with a hefty price tag this year as school boards like the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) break open their piggy banks as they welcome staff and students back amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The YCDSB will spend $20.6 million to support the safe reopening of schools this fall.
“This critical investment of almost $21 million was approved with the health, safety and mental well-being of our students, families and staff at the forefront of all our minds,” says Maria Marchese, Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Of that amount, $9 million will come from the board’s reserve funds and $11.6 million will come from new funding from the Ministry of Education. The board has earmarked $8.54 million to hire at least 76 full-time teachers to reduce class sizes and $2 million to hire additional lunchtime supervisors to support and improve student health and safety.
The board has allocated $1.8 million to increase resources and capacity of remote learning: $500,000 to upgrade school broadband networks and $1.3 million to hire principals and administrators dedicated to remote learning. Also, on the remote learning front, the board will spend $400,000 to ensure it has enough technology devices for students.
Other highlights: $2.7 million to improve ventilation and air quality, and purchase High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration units; $1.5 million for transportation-related service adjustments, $1.5 million for additional personal protective equipment (PPE), and $1.3 million to hire additional custodial staff to support increased and enhanced cleaning.
Finally, the board will spend $360,000 to support enhanced cleaning and PPE for transportation, $330,000 to support special education, $300,000 to address and support the mental health and well-being of students and staff, and $200,000 to support health and safety training.
“Whether students are returning to in-person face to face instruction or participating in remote learning, we are confident that we are doing all that we can to create a safe environment for students to learn and grow,” says Interim Director of Education Mary Battista. For more information on the YCDSB’s school re-entry plan, visit www.ycdsb.ca/reopening.