Holy Family SD gets funding for COVID sanitization

The third phase of COVID funding for the Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division will basically provide funding for sanitization supplies for the balance of the school year, trustees heard at their monthly board meeting, held via Zoom.

Finance director Lisa Wonsiak noted the province had restrictions as to what funding the school division could apply for, as in this phase only funding for sanitization was being accepted.

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Holy Family was approved for $125,000 in funding, but only $103,000 will be new money, as this will include $22,000 left over from the Phase 2 funding.

The school division will also get pandemic support for the 2021-22 school year, which includes $163,180, with $34,700 in support for PPE, for a total of $197,880.

This money will be counted as revenue in this current year, but it’s a restricted fund that can’t be used until the next school year.

The school division has to provide the province with a report about how they have used funding from phases 1-3 for COVID response by the end of July.

Wonsiak noted that most school divisions are under their threshold for funding.

“We are walking into fall with $200,000 (for COVID). We’re going to have to tighten our belts to address the needs of COVID, and hope that we’re in a different stage with COVID in the fall,” said Gwen Keith, education director.

On the issue of rapid testing, Keith noted the school division has rapid test kits at the board office, but they are expected to work with local medical health officials on the use of these kits.

“To date, they have not given us any guidance on this at all,” said Keith, noting that local health officials are very busy responding to local COVID cases, including doing contact tracing of new cases as they arise.

There are meetings held every week with local medical health officials, to keep tabs on what is happening with the pandemic locally, said Keith, and rapid tests have been on the agenda of those meetings, but they haven’t been able to get to it yet.

At the provincial level, they were told there are two organizations lined up to help do the rapid testing, but they don’t know who the organizations are, she added.

• In other board business, Keith noted there is an interim plan being worked on for the next school year, and it will lead into a new 10-year plan for education in Saskatchewan. For the interim plan, the education directors have been divided up into three main focus areas.

The three areas are a strong economy, strong community and strong families, with a view to provide responsive student-centred curriculum, said Keith, with a heavy focus on First Nations, and on partnerships with different stakeholders.

One of those stakeholders will be an education council, which will give feedback on the directions education is going in the province.

“I’m a little worried about the next one, on practical innovation. I don’t see much innovation compared to what Holy Family is doing,” said Keith, noting the innovation referred to seems to cover more about what divisions have been doing to adapt to COVID restrictions, and learning under Level 4.

“I don’t see any 21st century innovation in here. That’s their interpretation of what innovation is,” she added, noting there will also be a focus on equitable access to education. “We’ll wait and see what happens with equity on that.”

“This is certainly the pathway for next year, and how the budget is focusing on these priorities,” said Keith, adding there is also a focus on mental well-being, reading, and supports for learning.

“I do not expect we will get finalization on these until May. We need to get busy on working on our goals,” said Keith. “This is also looking at the start of a 10-year plan.”