Red Deer Public Schools is welcoming nearly $4 million in federal funding to help support COVID-19 prevention needs for staff and students.
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools is happy to get $3.5 million of the money being granted on a per-pupil basis, according to enrolment numbers.
In total, Ottawa is providing $250 million for Alberta school jurisdictions.
With 11,000 students, Red Deer Public Schools is getting $3,921,750, while Red Deer Catholic Schools, with 9,200 students, is receiving about half a million less.
“We are pleased that the federal government provided $3.5 million to our school division for COVID-19 relief,” said acting superintendent Kathleen Finnigan of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools.
She added the funds will be distributed according to need.
“Our senior administration is currently working diligently on a plan on how we will spend these dollars.”
Nicole Buchanan, chair of the public school board, said schools all face significantly higher costs related to COVID-19, so the federal money will close some funding gaps.
Buchanan added school divisions must use of the money to support COVID-19-related staffing costs, to adapt learning spaces (including online learning), and to buy protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
The public schools allocation includes spending $1.26 million on the extra staffing and supports for at-home learning.
According to district estimates, the anticipated substitute teaching cost related to COVID-19 illness and isolation of staff will equal $1.86 million.
Some $127,000 of the federal money will be spent on personal protective equipment, and $613,000 for additional cleaning and caretaking supplies.
Buchanan said, “We appreciate that the province distributed these funds leaving it to school jurisdictions to make the best use of the funding following federal guidelines. These are significant dollars, and without those, we would have to utilize our limited reserve funds.”
She added the public school division has worked diligently in back-to-school preparations.
“Over 90 per cent of our students have returned to at-school learning, which started Sept. 1 with staggered entry of students…
“Initial response from students, parents and staff has been overwhelmingly positive.”