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Dear Neighbour, 

It's almost the end of August. I have fond memories of taking my children each year to pick up new school supplies at this time of year! Yet, we all recognize that this year is different. 

Since March, the Government of Ontario has been working with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and leading experts to prepare for an eventual reopening of schools in a safe and responsible manner, while continuously adapting to the changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To ensure schools across the province will reopen safely in September and to protect students and staff, the Ontario government is providing more than half a billion dollars in supports to school boards. These supports will enable school boards to provide more physical distancing in classrooms and direct funding to utilize non-school community spaces, and will allow boards to make adjustments based on their local needs.

These funds to support safe reopening are in addition to the $736 million increase in funding through the Grants for Student Needs (GSN) program for the 2020-21 school year, representing the largest investment in public education in Ontario's history.  
Earlier this week, the Federal Government announced additional funding for education, with $381 million being allocated to Ontario in the first phase. This funding will be used by the province to further enhance our safe and responsible plan to reopen schools in Ontario through several priority provincial initiatives including: 

Reopening Plan Implementation - $200 million
→ $100 million to complement the health and safety components of school reopening plans, in consultation with local public health units, including the hiring of custodians, HVAC, improvements, internet connectivity for students and other local needs.
→ $30 million to support additional PPE for schools.
→ $70 million for the temporary hiring of educators as required.

Student Transportation - $70 million
→ $44.5 million in support of the Driver Retention Program (DRP).
→ $25.5 million for route protection and to help reduce the number of students on buses.

Special Education and Mental Health Supports Enhancement - $12.5 million
→ Will allow boards to hire and train additional staff and provide more mental health supports for students.

Additional Public Health Nurses - $12.5 million
→ Supports up to 125 additional nursing positions in public health units across the province to help schools manage potential COVID-19 cases.

Remote Learning - $36 million
→ Ensures that every school board offering virtual learning has a dedicated principal and administrative support for both its secondary and elementary virtual schools. 

The Government continues to take additional measures to maximize safety and minimize the risk to your children. Just as many schools have fire safety and emergency response plans, we have been working hand in hand with medical experts to develop a plan that will allow schools to quickly and effectively find, isolate and contain a COVID-19 case or outbreak.

On Wednesday, the government released Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools, a comprehensive document developed in consultation with public health experts, including Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, that aims to help schools identify and isolate COVID-19 cases, reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and prevent and minimize outbreaks.

The government’s plan includes:

→ A protocol developed to deal with students who become ill while they are at school, including isolation, and providing PPE to the ill student and staff attending to them.
→ A clear communications process will be followed, so parents will know if a student or staff member in your child’s school tests positive for COVID-19. 
→  School boards will be required to work closely with local public health units to communicate updates in real time, and determine whether a class or school must be closed. 
→  Led by Ontario Public Health, the government intends to surveillance test asymptomatic secondary students in our schools.
→  Defined protocols that trigger various levels of public health responses or infection control measures. 

Parents can rest assured knowing that our government remains committed to the health and safety of all students, families and staff, and leaning on the advice of medical experts who are helping to develop and support our plan.

My constituency office is currently open by appointment only. If you are in need of any assistance, you can make an appointment by calling my constituency office at (416) 781-2395 or email me at robin.martin@pc.ola.org.
 
To a safe back-to-school, 
Robin Martin, MPP
Eglinton-Lawrence

(416) 781-2395 - robin.martin@pc.ola.org
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