Sherwood Park, AB. — Today, the Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) Board of Trustees announced how it plans to use school funds from the federal government. In August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more than $2 billion in funding to help provinces and territories re-open schools safely. Of that $2 billion, Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) will receive $6.11 million.
As with most Alberta school divisions, the COVID-19 pandemic presents unique and complex challenges in delivering education. After careful analysis, EIPS believes the needs of schools exceed the $6.11-million grant. As such, the Division is allocating an additional $2.03 million toward its COVID-19 response—using its unallocated reserves and budget efficiencies—for a total of $8.14 million. EIPS will focus the added dollars in a variety of areas, including:
- Out-of-school learning – A $1.7-million allocation to out-of-school learning to hire extra teaching staff. The additional funds ensure appropriate support for both in-school learners and out-of-school learners, pre-K to Grade 12.
- In-school learning – A $2.96-million allocation to flow directly to schools to address three key areas of concern—classroom configuration, learning gaps and mental-health supports. Because specific needs vary from school to school, principals are in the best position to determine how to use the funds effectively. NOTE: While some of the dollars allocated to schools may be used to adjust the number of students in overextended classrooms, overall class sizes will not see a significant decrease.
- Student and staff safety – Keeping students and staff safe is the Division’s No. 1 priority. As such, EIPS is absorbing the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer, and additional school bus cleaning and janitorial services required when a school has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Medical leave – Additional dollars are allocated for staff medical leave and substitute costs related to illness, legally mandated isolation and quarantine requirements. The added funds ensure the continuity of learning for students.
- Student Transportation – EIPS is allocating additional dollars to Student Transportation to ensure extra daily cleaning and disinfecting of EIPS buses. The added funds protect students and families who rely on safe student transportation to get to and from school.
Overall, the $8.14 million, from the Government of Canada and the Division, represents a critical investment in education. Last year’s suspension of in-school classes was difficult and disruptive for students and their families. With the additional dollars, EIPS can focus on mitigating impacts on student learning as we all adapt to life during the ongoing health crisis.
“The last six months have been challenging and not easy to navigate,” says Trina Boymook, the Board Chair of EIPS. “Despite the challenges, the support we’ve received from EIPS families and our communities is tremendous and much appreciated. We’re also incredibly thankful for the additional dollars. It allows us to continue our efforts to ensure students meet, and exceed, their academic goals during the 2020-21 school year.”
Elk Island Public Schools is one of Alberta’s largest school divisions, serving approximately 17,400 students in 43 schools. We are proud to be an integral part of our communities, including Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville, Strathcona and Lamont counties, and the western portion of the County of Minburn.
For more information contact:
Laura McNabb, Director, Communication Services, EIPS
780-417-8204 cell 780-405-4902