HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia has it will spend $21.5 million to purchase computers for students and upgrade technology at schools across the province.

In an announcement Monday, Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill said the province will purchase 32,000 new Chromebooks so students can learn from home, as well as upgrading Wi-Fi, servers and routers at schools across the province.

"We are helping our students and teachers with the support they need to be successful this school year," said Churchill. "These purchases will put computers in the hands of students who need them and support teachers and principals at their schools with upgraded technology. All our children deserve a quality education, whether they are learning at school or at home."

The province says that during the spring when students were required to learn from home, about 26 per cent of Nova Scotia families reported technology challenges.

“We very quickly realized how important it is to ensure equitable access across the province for learning. These devices will be used, not only in our classrooms, but at students’ homes as well,” said Susan Kelley, regional executive director for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education. 

Funding comes from Canada’s "Safe Return to Class Fund."

Churchill says they have already secured 24,000 new devices, and an additional 8,000 will be purchased in the new year.

The 32,000 Chromebooks are in addition to 14,000 computers issued to schools at the beginning of the school year.

When asked about the safety challenge of bringing in external workers for technology installations, Churchill had the following to say:

“Part of this funding is going toward 10 staff -- people that will be assisting with this obviously, to support online learning and in general. There are new full-time positions that are tied to this funding, 10 in total. Anybody that goes into our schools out of necessity has to follow health and safety protocols.” 

Churchill said he “hopes” to have all technological changes in place this school year, but did not say definitively.