Education Minister Cliff Cullen says the biggest chunk of a multi-million dollar financial move is going towards increasing the per pupil allocation.
Manitoba's education department says $58 million is being added to the 2021-2022 school year's budget.
- $40 million for the per pupil allocation to school divisions and independent schools for additional staffing, learning and technology, and health and safety;
- $6 million for potential costs for PPE;
- $5 million for the Kindergarten to Grade 8 Remote Learning Support Centre for students who are medically compromised; and
- $7 million in contingency including a $5-million recovery learning fund
Cullen says these funds were announced to encourage preparing for in-person classes in the fall. The province is planning for a mostly typical 2021-2022 school year.
The supports are to be used for literacy and numeracy, mental health, and engagement for students. Professional learning and planning and assessment are also included in the budget.
"Obviously there will be a lot of learning recovery required. We are not sure exactly what that is going to look like but school boards will be working on that."
On Thursday afternoon, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer, and Premier Brian Pallister announced many schools would remain online, adding Dauphin to the list. Previously, Winnipeg, Brandon, and two school divisions spanning more communities were learning online. Online learning continues until at least June 7, with Dauphin until June 9.
"It has been a journey the last 15 months. Lots of twists and turns in the road. We appreciate everyone's patience in this effort," Cullen says about the possibility of remote learning extending even further into June. "I would love to have the year close on a successful couple of weeks where we have students interacting with their friends."
He says they are having a hard time predicting what the next two weeks could bring, unable to speculate if the previously-announced schools will be back in person.
Cullen says $170 million of the allocated COVID-19 relief is expected to be spent by the end of the current school year.