Ontario spending $35 million more to help schools in coronavirus hotspots

The Ford government is spending another $35 million to hire teachers and purchase new equipment for schools in areas hit hardest by COVID-19.

The money will flow to boards in Toronto, Peel Region, Ottawa and York Region.

Premier Doug Ford said the money will allow boards to pay for “more physical distancing, smaller classrooms and provide more resources for remote learning.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the money will be split proportionally between all public school boards in those impacted municipalities, with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) receiving $9 million.

He said the TDSB’s allotment could hire 120 more teachers or purchase 11,000 more computers and tablets.

School boards have purchased or distributed 120,000 computers and tablets this year to assist students in low-income households with remote learning.

As of Friday, 335 of the province’s 4,828 publicly-funded schools had seen at least one case of COVID-19 in a student

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Some Ontario special-ed teachers must teach students online and in person

Claudine Santos, president of the Ontario Parents of Visually Impaired Children, and her son Willam outside a school in Ottawa, on Sept. 19 2020.

Kamara Morozuk / Globe and Mail/The Globe and Mail

Special-education teachers at several Ontario boards are learning that they are expected to teach in-class and online at the same time despite the unique challenges faced by their elementary-age students with autism and other learning disabilities.

Many boards have different teachers who provide instruction to students learning online and to those in the classroom. But a handful of boards, including the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and Peel District School Board, are requiring teachers in self-contained classrooms to also teach those children whose families have opted for online learning.

Self-contained classrooms are typically small with around 10 students with severe learning disabilities, developmental disabilities or speech and language disorders. There are multiple adults in the room, including a

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