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Information about Federal Funding and the Updated Guidelines

Members should be aware that the second installment of the Federal funding to school districts is expected to be spent as per the instructions on the first installment; the Ministry of Education will be confirming with districts on how the funds were allocated. The Ministry is committed to ensuring districts deliver what is needed to ensure all students remain connected to their school communities and are provided the remote options needed by families.

IF your district is not providing a flexible remote option for students who remain enrolled in their current school but will not be returning to in-class instruction, please let BCCPAC know as the Ministry is very clear in this expectation.

Additionally, in alignment with the Equity and Inclusion Guiding Principles, districts are to ensure students will:

  • Be able to attend school full time or have a plan to ensure supports and learning continue if a student needs to learn at home
  • Have access to the necessary health and safety supports
  • Continue to receive supports and services as identified in their IEP, including 1:1 supports
  • Not be grouped in segregated settings as a part of the establishment of cohorts

Please review the details below issued by the Ministry of Education and these updated documents:

  1. Public Health Guidance for K-12
  2. K-12 Health & Safety Guidelines

To support the COVID-19 response for K-12 education, the federal government announced $242.4 million in one-time funding for the 2020-21 school year, with the first half of the investment being allocated in September. The second instalment of this funding arrived on Jan. 29, 2021. The Ministry of Education is allocating $101.1 million to school districts and $7.5 million to independent schools, and is providing school districts an additional $3.5 million to manage COVID-19 exposures in schools.

To support Indigenous learners, $8.2 million will go towards addressing learning loss and student health, technology for remote learning, education and mental health support, adapting classroom spaces and enhanced cleaning.

There will also be $900,000 allocated for six regional rapid response teams, one for each health authority and one dedicated to support independent schools, with representatives from both school and provincial health staff.

School districts and independent schools will be able to spend the second instalment of federal funding in the following areas, based on local needs:

  • Hiring teachers to deliver education programs including extended transition programs
  • Hiring and training custodial and administrative staff to support students in their safe return to schools and to implement school safety plans
  • Purchasing additional non-medical masks or other personal protective equipment
  • Improving ventilation and air systems in schools
  • Increasing hand hygiene, including additional handwashing and hand sanitizing stations
  • Cleaning equipment and supplies
  • Mental health support
  • Software and computer or tablet loans for students learning remotely; and
  • Additional transportation costs to accommodate additional routes and enhanced cleaning

The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) will distribute the $8.2 million in funding for Indigenous students living on-reserve who attend public schools. This will be used to promote continued learning opportunities and address extraordinary COVID-related student needs, while protecting the health, safety, and well-being of their citizens during the pandemic. FNESC will be required to report how the funding was used to the Ministry of Education.

Strengthened health and safety guidelines include these updates:

  • Activities that include prolonged physical contact should not be a part of physical education or any other classroom learning. For example, activities like tag or touch football are lower risk since students may only come into contact with each other briefly, whereas activities like wrestling or partner dancing should be avoided
  • All K-12 staff are required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering when they are in a classroom and they are away from their individual desk or workstation
  • Staff should be assigned to one learning group whenever possible. Staff interacting with more than one learning group (or with students in more than one school) without a transparent barrier are to practice physical distancing
  • Staff must practice physical distancing and wear non-medical masks for any face-to-face meetings or interactions, including in the staff room. Staff also must hold meetings virtually whenever possible
  • Any visitor to a school is required to wear a non-medical mask
  • Even when wearing a mask, students and staff must still practice physical distancing whenever possible. Exceptions will be made for people who do not tolerate masks for behavioural or health reasons
  • Within learning groups, physical distancing should also include avoiding physical contact, and minimizing close, prolonged, face-to-face interactions, while spreading out as much as possible within the space available. There should be no crowding, gathering or congregating of people, even when non-medical masks are worn

The education steering committee with membership from all education partners – including teachers, school staff, parents(BCCPAC), Indigenous rightsholders, trustees, and school leaders – has been meeting regularly throughout the pandemic. In January 2021, the committee was expanded to include staff from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, the BC Centre for Disease Control and WorkSafe BC. A provincial coordinator has also been appointed to continue to improve COVID processes and make sure COVID-related health and safety guidelines are implemented consistently throughout the education system.