As the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve and affect us all, school boards have resumed community use of their facilities while following the Provincial and local public health units’ requirements. This document outlines our vision for enhancing and prioritizing community use to help repair the damaging effects of COVID-19.
Ontarians continue to feel a lack of connection due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even as frontline workers, families, and communities work together to support each other’s safety and wellbeing. Social connections beyond households were seriously affected during lockdowns and while masking and social distancing were in effect. This has taken a toll on the social development of children and mental health of all. We must address the significant burden of the pandemic on communities and local organizations. 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: Moving Forward: Maximizing Community Use of School Spaces.