KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region's public and Catholic school boards received more than $34 million to help with infrastructure upgrades during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal and provincial governments announced a combined $656.5 million in funding for school boards across Ontario to help improve HVAC systems and ventilation, allowing for better physical distancing, investing in technology for remote learning and installing handwashing stations with touches faucets and soap dispensers.

The Waterloo Region District School Board received $26,231,600, while the Waterloo Catholic District School Board will get $8,162,000.

"Ontario’s government is focused on protecting the lives of students, staff, and their families. We put a plan into action that leads the nation – delivering air ventilation improvements to over 95 per cent of schools, 7,000 additional staff, and improved cleaning, testing and stronger screening," Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a news release. "We have prioritized education staff in high priority communities and all special education staff across the province, and will expand to all staff as supply becomes available."

School boards in the Guelph area also received funding in the announcement. The Upper Grand District School Board will get $10,969,000, while the Wellington Catholic District School Board will receive $1,999,490.