Toronto District School Board asks province for additional funding

May 13 2020, 7:48 am

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is calling on the Province of Ontario to provide additional funding to help recover COVID-19 related costs.

The board says the recovery costs are associated with remote learning and ensuring students have the proper supports they need when they to transition back to school.

According to the TDSB, no additional funding has been provided to date for coronavirus-related impacts through the Grants for Student Needs or supplemental grants.

“COVID-19 has changed the way we learn, work and live. It’s important that we advocate for the funding and resources needed to support our students and school communities, and to address the challenges school boards are facing due to the on-going health crisis,” Robin Pilkey, chair of the TDSB, said.

On Tuesday night, a Special Board meeting was held to discuss some of the impacts of the pandemic on the TDSB.

The trustees passed a motion that “requests funding to help school boards provide additional staffing and resources to support mental health and wellbeing; special education; children with special needs; students transitioning from elementary to secondary school; and those struggling with literacy and numeracy,” a statement said.

The motion also calls for the government to provide funding to replace school board budgets that were used to purchase and deliver devices to support access to online learning platforms and digital resources.

According to the TDSB, more than 56,000 devices have been delivered to families since the beginning of the school closure period.

With requests for devices still being received, more than 4,000 additional devices are expected to be delivered in the upcoming days.

Due to the “significant undertaking” trustees are asking the government to begin funding technology — devices such as iPads or Chromebooks — at a one device to one student ratio.

Another motion was passed by the board calling for the Director of Education to continue gathering feedback from staff, parents, guardians and students on remote learning and how educators can best connect with their students.

The motion calls for the information to be provided to educators to improve remote learning opportunities and connecting with students online.

On April 17, Ontario deployed 21,000 iPads, equipped with free online access to families most in need — provincial school boards partnered with tech leaders like Apple and Rogers to deliver the equipment.

Ontario schools have been operating remotely since mid-March and will not reopen until June at the earliest.