The federal government confirmed the additional cash on Wednesday, just weeks before British Columbian students are expected to start filing back into classrooms.
“… let’s take the time now and get the plan right,” the BC Teachers Federation tweeted shortly after news of the funding.
Fed money for BC schools certainly amps up pressure on province & minister @Rob_Fleming to offer choice to parents who do not want to send kids into classes other than severing relationship with catchment school or find a way to have less kids in classes.#bcpoli #bced #covid19 https://t.co/UDCDdgCmZi
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) August 26, 2020
The money comes amid ongoing concerns, anxiety, and confusion from parents across Canada on some back-to-school plans.
Some of the biggest concerns raised, including in B.C., have been around how school districts will pay for personal protective equipment, like masks, as well as smaller class sizes.
“Smaller classes, reduced density, better cleaning and ventilation,” the BCTF lists in its social media post, adding schools “should also provide remote options for students [who] need them.”
Currently, B.C.’s back-to-school plan includes the requirement for all students to attend in-class instruction. How often in-person classes will take place will be determined by each school district. Students can still get medical exemptions, and parents are still able to sign their kids up for homeschooling, if they so choose.
However, the lack of planning for remote learning options has been a point of contention for some. The BCTF says providing remote learning options for students will, “Help kids stay safe and connected to their school,” as well as “help reduce density and support medically complex children and youth.”
The B.C. teachers union is encouraging parents to let the province know how they feel about its back-to-school plan, and to send MLAs an email.
#BCed should also provide remote options for students that need them. Help kids stay safe and connected to their school. This will help reduce density and support medically complex children and youth. Let #bcpoli know how you feel. Send MLAs an email at https://t.co/CWDriUdjay.
— BCTF (@bctf) August 26, 2020
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau informed premiers of the additional funding on Tuesday. Provinces and territories will decide how to spend the money, which is on top of the $19 billion already announced to help them cope with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on each of their economies and health care systems.
“We’ve made this funding flexible so provinces, and ultimately schools, can use it for what they need most, from hand sanitizer to remote learning,” the Trudeau said, adding the federal government would also be investing $112 million in Indigenous community schools to help them with their restart plans.
While education is a provincial responsibility, Trudeau said the federal government put more cash forward to help amid concerns from parents and MPs across the country.