The Government of the Northwest Territories announced additional funding for schools as they deal with increased costs because of COVID-19.

More than $12 million in new funding is going to schools, with a third of the money, $4.85 million coming from the federal government.

Most of the funding, $9.9 million, is being given directly to schools to spend on more equipment personal protective equipment and cover increased salary costs to hire more custodians to ensure schools are cleaned and sanitized, and substitute teachers.

The rest of the funding, $2.4 million, will go towards supporting families with technology difficulties, helping with laptop purchases or home internet access.

“This new funding will cover the additional costs that come with physical distancing, additional cleaning and disinfecting, and access to distance learning,” Caroline Wawzonek, Minister of Finance said in a statement.

Pierre Cook, who teaches a grades five through eight class at Hay River’s French language elementary school École Boréale, said making progress academically had been difficult when schools were forced online.

“When it all got flushed down the toilet in March, we didn’t quite have digital infrastructure developed, it was lacking. When we went online in April it was difficult,” he said. 

“But now we’re back in classrooms, me as a technology guy I kind of held back using screens in the classroom, because some parents were hesitant,” he said. “But now that’s changed.”

Cook said now is the perfect time to introduce new digital elements into the curriculum. His class have been producing their own radio show, entirely in French, every week as part of their literacy class.

“The pandemic has unified parents, teachers and school communities,” he added.