The three major school divisions in the Grande Prairie area will be receiving roughly $6.9 million in federal education funding to aid with COVID-19 related expenses.

The Grande Prairie & District Catholic School Division is receiving over $1.9 million in funding. Superintendent of Schools Karl Germann says the division has already conducted additional spending in hopes they would receive the grant funding.

“We’ve had to hire an additional eight teachers into elementary and junior high online learning, and another five for high school online learning; plus some other services that we might need for our kids,” he says.

“We’re putting a call out to our principals in terms of what are some of the hotspots in different areas and we’ll have a better idea of what our budget committee can do with the funding and how it can best meet the needs of kids.”

The Grande Prairie and District Public School Division will be receiving a total of $2.9 million from the grant and the Peace Wapiti School Division has been designated just over $2 million.

Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange says she recognizes the importance of the additional funding to schools across the province and has designated a broad set of criteria for how it is to be used.

“School authorities said that they wanted as much flexibility as possible to use this funding in ways that are most important for their schools and communities.”

Lagrange’s criteria for COVID-19 related spending include staffing, adapting learning spaces, personal protective equipment, as well as cleaning and safety considerations for schools and buses.

In all, the Province of Alberta is set to receive $262.8 million, which will be distributed in two phases— once in September and once later in the school year.