The NWT government on Thursday said it was committing $12.4 million in new funding to help the territory’s schools meet the extra costs of adapting to Covid-19.
Of that sum, $4.85 million is funding initially supplied by the federal government. The money will pay for more teachers, more cleaning, laptops and internet access, and personal protective equipment.
RJ Simpson, the education minister, said in a statement: “We have worked hard to ensure schools have the resources and supports in place to help mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 on our education system.”
Finance minister Caroline Wawzonek said the money would “cover the additional costs that come with physical distancing, additional cleaning and disinfecting, and access to distance learning.”
Precisely how the funding will be broken down between schools and school boards was not clear.
Since reopening at the start of September, schools have faced a range of new challenges related to the pandemic.
For example, substitute teachers are in exceptionally high demand to cover for teachers who must isolate if they develop colds that come with Covid-19 symptoms – and so schools’ annual budgets to pay for substitutes are being drained at extraordinary pace.
The territorial government said the funding announced on Thursday would cover the cost of additional substitute teachers as well as more custodians and more cleaning supplies.
The money can also be used to pay for extra teachers so more students can be taught face-to-face while meeting physical distancing requirements.
New laptops, tablets, and payments for at-home internet access are covered, as are other materials and supplies needed for distance learning.