A new public school in Breslau is one of three new facilities planned for Waterloo Region that moved forward last week with a formal funding announcement from the province.
The Waterloo Region District School Board will build a second school in the rapidly growing Thomasfield Homes subdivision on the east side of the village. The building will provide space for some 600 elementary students and 73 childcare spots. The province is providing $16.6 million.
“In many ways, schools are the heart of our communities. They bring people together for a shared experience of learning. The past months have been very challenging and I’m proud of Ontario school boards, teachers, parents or students for their collective effort to return to safe in person learning,” said MPP Mike Harris during the January 19 funding announcement.
Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said the province is providing $45.8 million towards building three new schools and opening more childcare spaces in the region. Together, the three will provide room for 1,665 students and 234 childcare spaces.
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Along with the WRDSB school in Breslau, there will be two new Catholic schools in Kitchener.
“We know that this type of opportunity will benefit Kitchener, Waterloo, Woolwich Township and parents right across the region,” said Lecce.
WRDSB director of education jeewan chanicka said the new facility will be closer to the new subdivision in Breslau, providing much-needed childcare spaces as well.
“This investment will provide Breslau families more easily, accessible school and childcare within their own community. Our proposed location at 95 Loxleigh Lane is within the Hopewell Crossing subdivision, which is set to welcome an anticipated 4,176 people to Breslau by 2031. With this school projected opening 2024-25, this investment ensures that WRDSB will be well positioned to build a school facility that supports the emerging needs of the Breslau community. Beyond the students and their families this new school and childcare space will benefit all who live in Breslau as it will be home to community gatherings, team sports, club meetings and more. We can’t wait to welcome students to this new space,” said chanicka.
As children are back in class, stronger ventilation to help combat the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant have been put in place. Both the WRDSB and WCDSB stated that all of their kindergarten classrooms have HEPA units in them.
“A hundred per cent of our kindergarten classrooms have HEPA filters, all of our ACE classes, which is classes that support our students’ special needs and some of our most in need students with complex cases, all have HEPA filters. We have about 1,079 units in place,” said chanicka.
The Ontario government provided WRDSB with $27.5 million for ventilation funding to help them improve their air quality. Prior to the pandemic, WRDSB had 61 per cent of their school with full mechanical ventilation, and 38 per cent with partial mechanical ventilation, the board said in an email.
“We continue to make this a priority because we know based on emerging evidence of how Omicron can spread, this is critical,” said Lecce. “I’m pleased to confirm that the new Breslau Hopewell Crossing school will have in their construction the highest standards of ventilation available to the province of Ontario using HVAC systems that will accommodate the highest filter quality.
“We’re raising the standards within our schools today; we’re also making sure that for new builds that we continue to have the highest quality air filters in schools today and the ones we build tomorrow,” said Lecce.