The Ford government of Ontario will be opening up their wallets to help the education system get a head start for the coming school year.
The announcement was made on Friday from Queen's Park, as Ford was joined by Minister of Health Christine Elliott, and virtually by Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, who is currently self isolating.
Ford announced that his government will be providing school boards with $25.5 billion during 2020-2021, increasing funding by $736 million, compared to last year.
That figure puts the amount of cash per student at $12,525, a $250 increase from last year.
The funds will cover textbooks, learning materials, and other classroom supplies.
Ford said that parents would not be forced to put students in school, saying online learning will still remain available.
Lecce said that, for September, Ontario will have classes of no more than 15 students, with students alternating weeks in class. Lecce said the effectiveness and safety of the practice will be examined by scientists and doctors as it continues, and will be adjusted.
"We will slowly but surely move to a conventional classroom experience, but always with strict health and safety protocols in place," said Lecce.
Lecce said the province would approach the school year with a three-pronged approach:
- A plan for regular in-class instruction with heightened health protocols.
- The continuation of remote learning with more standardization. This would happen should school closures be extended, or if some parents choose not to send their child back to school, the province says.
- An adapted delivery model, which blends in-class with online learning, which would see students alternating being in class by days or weeks.
"It is obvious that schools will not look the same, that we will have to re-imagine education in some respects in September, given that there will have to be some protocol changes," said Lecce.
The province will also encourage additional hygiene protocols, environmental changes, ventilation changes, and allowing for more outdoor classes when possible.