Maximizing Community Use of School Space: Preparing for a New Normal

Now that a greater portion of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, some school boards are gradually allowing the community use of their facilities while following the Provincial and local public health units’ requirements. This document outlines the vision of the SPACE Coalition for enhancing and prioritizing community use as this is happening.

Ontarians have felt a lack of connection during the COVID-19 pandemic, even as frontline workers, families, and communities worked together to support each other’s safety and wellbeing. Social connections beyond households have been seriously affected during the pandemic, taking a toll on the social development of children and mental health of all. The social impacts of the pandemic on communities and local organizations must be urgently addressed. As school boards resume regular issuing of permits for use of their facilities and grounds, SPACE’s vision for a new normal includes affordable, accessible, and equitable use by communities.

In this document, we outline recommendations to the Government of Ontario, Ministry of Education, and other partners to maximize Ontario communities’ use of school space.

Specifically, we are calling for an increase in community use of school funding provided to local school boards to:

  • offset increased labour and utilities costs.
  • provide free and low-cost community programming in high-needs neighbourhoods including but not limited to covering costs for free evening, weekend, March break, and summer permits (similar to the Priority School Initiative).
  • support permits and student employment for summer and after-school programming (similar to Focus on Youth).

Read our briefing note and full list of recommendations: Maximizing Community Use of School Spaces: Preparing for a New Normal.