Nova Scotia is spending another $14.3-million to support students who are getting their education during the COVID-19 pandemic, provincial Education Minister Zach Churchill announced Wednesday.
The money includes investments in healthful food programs, math and literacy programs, personal protective equipment for staff and students, along with other initiatives to keep schools safe.
The money is coming from the federal Safe Return to Class Fund, the province said in a news release.
"These investments will support the health and safety of our students and provide the supports they need to be successful at school,” Churchill said in the release.
The government will spend $500,000 "to meet the increased demand for the School Healthy Eating Program and $1 million to support an Emergency Food Response Fund to quickly respond to food needs of students, should at-home learning be needed," the release said.
A total of $4.1 million is earmarked "to pilot new online math and literacy programs to help students with learning in these key areas." The programs will be accessible whether students are going to school or learning from home.
The programs include:
- grades 3 to 10 math
- grades primary to 3 enhanced literacy, including phonemic awareness (ability to hear and manipulate larger units of sound, such as words, rhymes and syllables), phonics, fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension
- and grades 4 to 6 writing, through practice and additional supports for skill development including a focus on reading and writing.
The province also plans to install touchless water stations in every school, for a total of about 950 units at a cost of $3.8 million. Schools that have clean water will be moved from using bottled water to the new touchless stations and remediation of water taps will continue in schools with elevated levels of lead in their water supply.
Another $2.7 million will be spent on ongoing efforts to ensure schools have adequate ventilation and that any needed ventilation repairs are made quickly.
The province will also spend $1.5 million to buy more PPE, including masks and hand sanitizer, for students and staff and $700,000 is earmarked "to support a transition to blended learning, if required, so schools can reorganize and relocate furniture and supplies in a short period of time," the release said.
In late November, Churchill announced the province would spend $21.5 million to buy Chromebooks for students and to upgrade technology at schools across the province.