Building on Ontario’s Plan to Keep Schools Safe and Open for In-person Learning

Education Health and Safety Measures and Funding:

To best support the health and safety of students and school communities across Ontario, the government is providing new health and safety guidance to protect against COVID-19. In addition, the government is providing school boards with access to the remaining portion of the $1.6 billion in COVID-19 resources allocated for the 2021-22 school year. With the December break approaching, on the advice of the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (OCMOH), these measures will help to keep schools safer and support a return to more normal school environments.

Time-Limited Health and Safety Measures:

To mitigate risks associated with the colder weather and to limit the number of contacts for unvaccinated populations, especially in elementary schools, new time-limited health and safety measures for elementary schools.

For schools this means:

  • Virtual-only parent teacher conferences/interviews in elementary and secondary schools
  • Starting in January, virtual-only assemblies in elementary schools unless a local PHU/school board chooses to enforce this measure earlier
  • Restricting lunches/breaks to classroom cohorts when indoors, where distancing between cohorts cannot be maintained in elementary schools.

These will remain in place until the OCMOH recommends they be lifted.

In addition, elementary and secondary schools will be required to implement daily on-site confirmation of screening prior to/upon arrival at school for at least two weeks following winter break for students and staff. School boards are encouraged to continue this practice throughout the year, or as prescribed by a local public health unit.

Regular Timetabling:

Recognizing the high rates of vaccination amongst youth, and to support a return to more normal school environments, school boards are permitted to resume regular timetabling of four courses a day for secondary school students. This will be in effect for the Winter semester, or earlier, with the support by the local medical officer of health.

2021-22 COVID-19 Funding Supports

As announced on May 4, 2021, to support the continued safe operation of schools in 2021-22, the Ontario government is providing temporary COVID-19 funding supports, with more than $1.6 billion in resources available to school boards throughout the year.

At the time of the announcement, school boards were expected to budget for approximately half of the more than $1.6 billion in resources to support the first half of the school year, including access to one per cent from their reserves.

With Ontario’s successful vaccine rollout there is important progress being made in the fight against COVID-19. To protect this progress and to provide safer learning environments for students, the government is confirming that the remaining COVID-19 funding supports will be provided to school boards for the second half of the school year, including access of up to two per cent from school board reserve funds.

Below is a breakdown of the full COVID-19 funding supports for the 2021-22 school year:

  • $383.6 million to help support school boards in having staffing in place to navigate a safe school year ($304 million via PPF and $79.6 million through the Language Grant in the GSN)
  • $65.5 million for enhanced cleaning protocols and other health and safety measures in student transportation
  • $59 million for special education, mental health and well-being, and equity initiatives (including an annual $10 million investment as part of the GSN)
  • $29.4 million for increased costs related to school operations in recognition of the need to operate ventilation systems longer and replace filters more frequently
  • $20 million for re-engaging students and reading assessment supports
  • $34.9 million in additional technology funding (including an annual $14.9 million investment to support technology, such as devices for students in the GSN, and $20 million in connectivity supports for remote learning technology)
  • Up to $450 million to provide required personal protective equipment (PPE) and critical supplies and equipment (e.g. cleaning supplies) through the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the pandemic stockpile
  • $86 million to support school-focused nurses in public health units and testing in schools
  • Up to $508 million for school boards to access up to two per cent of reserves to support COVID-related expenses.

School boards are also being provided with additional flexibility from the $304 million staffing investment to address other COVID-19 emerging pressures, such as lower than expected enrolment.