Manitoba earmarks $12M for schools to buy masks, other PPE

The Manitoba government is setting aside $12 million from previously announced funding for schools to purchase masks and other personal protective equipment.

“Our government is providing Manitoba schools with the financial resources they need to support their students and staff,” Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said in a news release.

“Meeting the recommended health provisions requires financial support and we are ensuring that support is available to schools. We know that teachers, students and staff are adjusting to a different and sometimes difficult school environment and Manitobans are grateful for all of their efforts.”

The majority of the news release Monday restated much of what the province has already announced — that the Safe Schools funding consists of $100 million, which includes $48 million that school divisions saved from their regular budgets when in-class learning was suspended in March. The province added $52 million for schools to draw from to pay for COVID-19-related expenses.

The $12 million for masks will be set aside from the pool of $52 million, Goertzen said.

Another $8 million from that pool will be available “to address serious and urgent health and safety measures over and above the school division allocation,” while the remaining $32 million is there for school divisions and independent schools to access for other needs.

The amount they can get is limited to a per-pupil maximum, Goertzen said.

The province will also make available the $85.4 million in federal funds announced last month for education.

Schools can use the money for enhanced cleaning and sanitization, including more supplies and custodial staffing, increased bus transportation capacity, technology-related costs for items such as remote learning, and ensuring substitute teachers and educational staff are available to keep schools open and children learning, the news release says.

“Manitoba will be working closely with divisions, schools and stakeholders to assess where additional financial contributions are needed and will invest in order to meet these needs to ensure learning continues, while maintaining a focus on health, wellness and student achievement,” Goertzen said.

“We are continuing with the plan to focus this funding on the public health measures needed to keep students and staff as safe as possible while learning.”

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