RED DEER -- Red Deer Public Schools is welcoming federal education funding for COVID-19. The province announced that a total of $250 million in federal funding will be distributed to school authorities on a per student basis. With 11,000 students, Red Deer Public will receive more than $3.9 million.

“We knew that going into this year there were going to be additional costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said board chair Nicole Buchanan.

“We appreciate that the province distributed these funds leaving it to school jurisdictions to make the best use of the funding following federal guidelines. These are significant dollars and without those, we would have to utilize our limited reserve funds.”

The money will go towards personal protective equipment ($127,000), additional cleaning and caretaking supplies ($613,000), staffing and supports for at-home learning ($1.26 million), and anticipated substitute costs ($1.86 million).

The largest portion of funding went to anticipated substitute costs related to COVID-19 illness and isolation of staff. Buchanan said with flu season approaching, Red Deer Public is anticipating many staff will have to isolate when showing symptoms.

“We are going into cold and flu season. People are going to get sick. We know that there is going to be people who have to stay home and with that comes costs for substitute teachers.”

According to Red Deer Public Schools, over 90 per cent of students have returned to at-school learning.

Red Deer Catholic Schools received more than $3.4 million in funding.