October 5, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, announced an allocation of $35 million to provide additional immediate school board supports in “hotspot” regions experiencing high rates of COVID-19 transmission, including the regions of Peel, Ottawa, Toronto, and York.
Premier Ford and Minister Lecce were joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, and Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams. All attendees responded to questions from media regarding the province’s ongoing response to COVID-19 after this afternoon’s announcement.
Earlier today, the Ontario government also announced $500,000 to help 92 Niagara-area residents train for careers as personal support workers (PSWs).
Additional COVID-19 Supports for Schools in Hotspot Regions
This afternoon, Premier Ford and Minister Lecce announced an allocation of $35 million to provide additional COVID-19 supports for school boards in the “hotspot” regions of Peel, Ottawa, Toronto, and York.
The funding may be used to support increased distancing between students, through the hiring of additional teachers, early childhood educators, and educational assistants to enable smaller class sizes. Funding may also be used to provide additional supports for remote learning, such as hiring educators for remote learning, or purchasing devices for students who have chosen to learn remotely.
The investment announced today is part of the $50 million set aside to respond to emerging challenges in the government’s school reopening plan.
Questions from Media – Ongoing Response to COVID-19
Itinerant Teachers and COVID-19
In response to questions about the risk of COVID-19 being spread between schools by itinerant teachers, who may teach in several schools per week, Minister Lecce said that the Ministry of Education has asked school boards to limit the movement of these individuals between schools as much as possible, and that these teachers are also subject to enhanced screening protocols. The Ministry of Education is working on a resolution with teachers’ unions and school boards.
Internal Provincial Travel Restrictions
When asked whether Ontario residents should avoid travel to the hotspot regions of Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa, Dr. Williams responded that while there are no internal restrictions on travel throughout the province, Ontarians are asked to reduce any non-essential travel and reminded to limit close contacts. Anyone who feels ill should remain at home.
Confusion Surrounding Changing Guidance
In response to questions about Ontarians who are confused by recent rapid changes in public health guidance from the province, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott emphasized the importance of using common sense to govern actions, particularly over Thanksgiving weekend. Ontarians, particularly those with vulnerable family members, are encouraged to stick to their immediate family units over the upcoming weekend and avoid large gatherings.
Investment in Training for PSWs in Niagara Region
Earlier today, the government also announced an investment of $500,000 to help 92 Niagara-area residents train for careers as PSWs.
The blended online and in-person training, which began on September 8th, is being offered at Lifetime Learning, the District School Board of Niagara adult education centre. Graduation is expected within 40 weeks.