As of August 18, 2020
Plans for returning to Elementary/Secondary Education in Ontario Region
What we have heard
ISC Ontario Region has been listening to First Nations educator concerns regarding additional costs related to the re-opening of schools in September, including concerns about the need to acquire PPE; additional cleaning needs; additional special education and transportation needs; additional teacher salary to accommodate rotational schedules; and additional funding for student learning devices, amongst other needs.
Returning to student learning in fall 2020
In respect of the principle of First Nations control of First Nations Education, ISC is working with communities to support school re-opening plans and to understand First Nation educator concerns about keeping communities safe and healthy while returning students to learning.
To date, ISC has heard a variety of plans from First Nations partners for the resumption of student learning this fall, including:
- Student cohorting
- Reconfiguring school spaces
- Creating school bubbles
- Implementing synchronous learning
- Increasing land-based learning course offerings in the first semester
- At-home learning
ISC Elementary/Secondary Program Funding
The intent of ISC Elementary/Secondary Program funding is to provide access to provincially comparable education to First Nations students by supporting communities to deliver supports for students, schools, educators, and communities that ultimately improve student well-being and education outcomes.
The majority of ISC Elementary/Secondary Program funding is not targeted to specific activities, and provides broad funding support for First Nations communities and mandated organizations to accomplish the program intent. Therefore, with the exception of provincial/private school tuition funding*, elementary/secondary education funding can be re-purposed to any activity that supports students in returning to learning this fall. Some examples may include:
- Re-profiling transportation budgets to support at-home learning
- Re-profiling off-reserve student support services to support synchronous learning
- Re-profiling staff travel budgets to support in-school support activities
Elementary/Secondary Program funding is also a fixed funding authority, meaning any previous year surplus can be retained for elementary/secondary education purposes.
*tuition funding is intended to pay for instructional services of a student based upon invoices for those services. It is slightly more limited in its flexibility as a result, but it does not necessarily have to be paid to a provincial school. For more information, please contact an ISC regional Education program officer.
The Indigenous Community Support Fund (ICSF) helps Indigenous communities prevent, prepare and respond to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and can be used toward educational and other support for children. To date, Ontario Region First Nations communities have directly received $37.5 million through this fund. On August 12, 2020, Indigenous Services Canada announced a further $305 million nationally for the ICSF. It will be distributed through a combination of allocations directly to First Nations, Inuit and Métis leadership, and needs-based funding, which will be application driven. This approach aligns with our commitment to support Indigenous leaders’ approaches to community wellness while providing the flexibility to respond to emerging needs, for example in response to an outbreak of COVID-19.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in First Nations Schools
On May 29, 2020, the Government of Canada announced $285.1 million to support the ongoing public health response to COVID-19 in Indigenous communities. Some of this funding will be made available to Ontario First Nations to address immediate public health measures in schools, including:
- additional hand washing stations
- signage to reinforce social distancing and consistent with local public health guidance
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff or students
- Cleaning supply costs
- Plexiglass barriers
- Flushing water lines
More information will be shared shortly about how these funds can be accessed by First Nations schools in Ontario.
Public Health References
- For your reference, you can find high level federal public health guidance on for schools (K-12) at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/guidance-schools-childcare-programs.html.
- Note – this guidance is currently being revised, but you will see the basic principles regarding spacing, etc. in that document that remain in play today. To view other guidance documents for community settings, infection prevention control, etc. you can find links to guidance developed at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/guidance-documents.html.
Owen Zoccole – Senior Elementary/Secondary Program Officer, ISC Ontario Region
Rob St. Pierre – Senior Elementary/Secondary Program Officer, ISC Ontario Region
Neil Rea – Manager, Education and Social Programs, ISC Ontario Region
Susan Troniak – A/Director, Education and Social Programs, ISC Ontario Region