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Local schools receive federal funding to adapt to pandemic requirements

Nineteen schools in Waterloo Region will receive $4.8 million in federal funding to help them adapt to pandemic-related changes.

The list of recipients includes Breslau PS, Conestogo, EDSS, Floradale, John Mahood, Linwood, Park Manor, St. Clement, St. Teresa and St. Jacobs PS, along with Grandview PS and Waterloo-Oxford in Wilmot Township.

Before students and teachers can get back to school in September, new equipment is being installed to create a safer environment. Schools will receive funding to improve air quality, install hand washing stations and create space reconfigurations that will enhance social distancing measures.

Through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, created to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Waterloo Region was able to secure funding that will help enhance the safety in schools, said Kitchener-Conestoga MP Tim Louis of last week’s funding announcement.

“Some of the funding is for HVAC systems, ventilation, some of its for windows, some of its to help with separating kids safely. For the students who aren’t coming back, working remotely, this is also spending that’s going to enhance broadband and the connectivity,” said Louis.

“I think our teachers, our staff and our students all deserve to work in a safe, modern space and learn in the same environment.”

Most of the renovations were started by July 1, as the work will be done in the summer months while schools sit empty, but the hope is have all of the projects completed between October and December this year. It is up to the local school boards to decide on how long everything will take, he said.

“The children want to get back to school, the parents want them to get back to school, the teachers want to work in a safe environment, and I think this is going to help bring everybody back together. We’re social people, we want to get back and see each other,” noted Louis.

“With things opening and closing, it’s been challenging for parents. It’s been challenging for the educators, for the students not knowing – we don’t have that long curve of consistency. I think that’s been the toughest thing. With the vaccines ramping up and the numbers there, we’re almost there, we can see the consistent planning coming.”

Ottawa has been investing over the last year in public infrastructure to help communities struggling to keep up with measures related to the pandemic, creating healthier work environments, new hospital programs and now safer schools. A temporary COVID-19 resilience stream was created to provide Canada with added flexibility to fund quick-start, short-term projects that might not have been eligible under existing funding streams. To date, more than $3 billion in funding has been provided.

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