Major Funding to Improve COVID-19 Safety in Schools Across Windsor-Essex

A stock photo of a classroom.

Windsor-Essex will share in a major funding announcement by the federal and provincial governments to help schools across Ontario make infrastructure upgrades to protect students and staff from COVID-19.

The upper levels of government have announced $656.5-million with the majority of funding going toward ventilation projects that improve air quality in classrooms.

Other projects include the installation of water bottle refilling stations to improve access to safe drinking water, investing in network and broadband infrastructure to support remote learning, and space reconfigurations such as new walls and doors to enhance physical distancing.

The Greater Essex County District School Board will receive $15,562,957 in funding while $5,881,000 is going to the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.

Shelley Armstrong is Superintendent of Business and Treasurer for the local public school board.

She says almost every school within the board will have some work done.

"According to the program the construction has to commence by September 30 of this year and the projects have to be completed by December 31 of 2021," she says.  "So it's a very very small window but the board has already begun initiating a lot of work from a procurement prospective."    

Armstrong says projects include ventilation renewal as well as creating cooling centres.

"There will be additional wifi access points that are being implemented," says Armstrong.  "We're having something with respect to door hold open projects so that fire doors are tied to the alarm and open so we're not having frequently touched surfaces.  We're doing a lot of bottle filling conversations of our water fountains and adding more bottle filling stations."           

Armstrong adds the public board has identified 124 projects.

We’re certainly very grateful for the funding that we have received from the federal and provincial government’s infrastructure fund as it will allow us to complete some important upgrades in our schools," says Terry Lyons, who is the Director of Education at the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.

Some of those improvements include:

  • HVAC improvements to schools and portables
  • ​Installing water bottle filling stations
  • ​Some window replacement projects
  • ​Wall upgrades in open concept schools
  • ​Improvements to PA systems

Lyons says, "the Facilities Services department is in the process of finalizing contracts for the work to be completed with construction expected to begin by Sept. 30 and substantially completed by Dec. 31."

— with files from AM800's Rob Hindi & Kristylee Varley