The Nova Scotia government and the federal government have created a $7 million outdoor learning fund for all public elementary schools in the province.
The fund will allow schools to enhance existing outdoor learning spaces or create new ones.
“I am very happy to announce our commitment to outdoor learning,” said Derek Mombourquette, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “One of the lessons learned from COVID-19 is the advantage of teaching and learning outdoors. We continue to see and hear about the positive mental, physical and academic benefits that come from teaching and learning in nature. Our outdoor learning fund will ensure these benefits remain in place for Nova Scotia’s students once the pandemic is over.”
New or enhanced projects may include one or more of the following elements:
- school garden
- outdoor seating area using nature-based elements, such as rocks or tree stumps
- covering/shelter from elements (tents, shade-providing structure)
- outdoor performance area
Schools will be asked to ensure that the spaces are aligned with curriculum and opportunities for physical activity, and include elements connected to priorities such as biodiversity, inclusive education, African Nova Scotian heritage and treaty education to promote reconciliation.
The deadline for projects to be completed is Dec. 31, 2021.
The Government of Canada is investing $5.6 million in this project through the COVID-19 Resilience Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The Government of Nova Scotia is contributing $1.4 million.
Nova Scotians have shown resiliency in working together as they adapt to the effects of the global pandemic. Today’s investment in outdoor learning spaces for all public Nova Scotia elementary schools will ensure students have a safe and positive environment in which to learn and grow, now and in the future. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities. – Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, on behalf of Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
At Burton Ettinger, outdoor learning has been part of our every day for many years. These spaces have given students the opportunity to learn through hands-on experiences in a natural environment in the middle of the city. Our students are able to grow their own vegetables, observe the lifecycle of a butterfly in the butterfly gardens – and enjoy a good book under the shade of a tree. I am excited that all elementary schools in Nova Scotia will soon have this same opportunity. Tracy Foster, principal, École Burton Ettinger Elementary, Halifax