Manitoba investing $58 million for COVID-19 precautions in schools

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is investing $58 million in funding for schools for the 2021-22 school year to help with more pandemic protection.

Education Minister Cliff Cullen made the announcement Thursday afternoon, noting the money will also go toward mental health supports for both students and staff.

The breakdown of the $58 million includes $40 million in per-pupil allocation, $6 million for potential PPE, $5 million for remote learning support for those students from K-8 who are medically compromised, and $7 million in contingency funds.

The contingency money will help address the problems that the pandemic has created for students and support mental health, literacy and numeracy, planning and assessment, student engagement, and professional learning.

Cullen was asked what mental health supports will be available to students who have had to constantly switch between being at school and at home.

“We recognize the challenges with mental health and those issues relevant to COVID,” he said. Cullen encourages parents to reach out to health experts if there are any concerns about mental health ranging from anxiety to eating disorders.

He said there are resources in place that students and parents can access if needed.

Cullen noted while they are announcing funding for next year, it is still too early to determine what the next school year will look like.

“We have a hard time predicting the next two weeks,” said Cullen, “We’re optimistic with the vaccine process and the rollout in place. We will get a high percentage of Manitoba’s population vaccinated, certainly by September, I think that will put us in a (much) different light and I hope by September will be back to a more normal school year.”

He said the money announced Thursday is a minimum amount that the government is willing to invest and that the province will supply more if it is needed.

“We do recognize there is going to be some recovery required and a catch-up required, so clearly we are allocating resources for that.”

He said the government is hoping by the time September rolls around the day-to-day routine will be more normal, but the province is prepared to help more if needed.

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