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Government invests $38m to help arm schools with hand sanitiser, cleaning products amid pandemic

The Government has announced it will spend $38 million on schools for Covid-19-related costs, including hand sanitiser and cleaning products, as part of a bigger cash injection for the education sector.

School classroom (file picture). Source: istock.com

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said $214 million from the Covid-19 response and recovery fund was being released to help schools and support construction firms facing additional costs due to the pandemic.

The funding included $38 million to schools to cover unexpected costs related to Covid-19, a $69 million upgrade for online learning and $107 million in contingency funding to support school construction suppliers facing additional costs due to the lockdown.

"Covid has undoubtedly put additional financial pressure on schools," Mr Hipkins said in a statement today.

"We have put aside $38 million to contribute towards the additional costs schools have faced related to the response, such as purchasing hand sanitiser and additional cleaning, and for more relief teacher hours to help manage any increase in staff requiring sick leave."

President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation Perry Rush said the $38 million would "take a burden off schools fighting to rebalance budgets after unexpected Covid expenses".

Mr Hipkins said the funding would also help more than 500 schools around the country that have teaching principals by enabling school leaders to access additional staffing or other supports.

“The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of having a flexible and resilient education system," Mr Hipkins said.

"Schools and students adapted to online learning quickly during the lockdown, so we have an opportunity to build on this momentum and give learners more options to learn safely online."

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Liam Rutherford also praised the support for the sector.

“Schools have had their relief teacher budgets stretched over the last few months as a result of Covid-19 and the flu season. This acknowledgement and extra support from the Government is greatly appreciated.”

However, he also urged the Government to invest in the early childhood sector as part of the Covid-19 recovery.