Alberta to provide $45M for students set back by COVID-19 learning loss
EDMONTON -- The Alberta government is setting aside $45 million in new funding to help students who fell behind during the pandemic amid changing learning and classroom conditions.
The money is intended for students who need extra help with literacy and numeracy.
"We know the COVID-19 crisis has created an unprecedented need among younger students and schools that intervene quickly are able to help struggling students catch up to grade level," Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said.
"We recognize that literacy and numeracy are essential and the building blocks for future learning. This investment is to ensure that students who have experienced learning loss get the timely help they need so that no student is left behind."
LaGrange said the funding will benefit about 50,000 students across the province.
School authorities will apply to the education ministry in the fall for funding and can use the money to hire extra teachers, substitute teachers, staff, or to pay for other learning resources.
"It'll certainly be up to the school authorities to determine how they're going to spend those dollars," LaGrange said.
The Opposition said the new funding covers up the government's prior lack of support for schools during the pandemic.
"Kids are facing these challenges because the UCP failed to act at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Sarah Hoffman, the Opposition's education critic.
“They have fallen behind because the UCP cut education staff, cut funding to schools, and failed to provide the necessary supports so schools could stay open, and stay open safely.”
Alberta students returned to classrooms after the long weekend, ending a two-week period of learning at home the government implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19.
There are five weeks left in the school year.
Of Alberta's 590 schools, 157 are reporting outbreaks of 10 or more cases of COVID-19. A further 201 are reporting outbreaks of between five and nine cases, and there are 196 schools on alert with between two and four cases.
Thirty-six of the province's schools are open with fewer than two cases.