As part of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief fund, the Education Department released to state governments the $122 billion financial aid for reopening schools.The relief package aims to reinforce K12 school efforts in getting children back to school in light of increasing concerns over learning loss and students’ mental health. Assistance will focus particularly on programs for helping students of families and communities who were hit hard by the pandemic.
One of the current administration’s main plans of action is to lend a hand in the reopening of elementary and middle schools after more than a year of closure due to the pandemic. School leaders from all over the country, in both urban and rural districts, rejoiced upon receiving the news as they have been requesting funding since summer.
How the School Pandemic Relief will be Allocated
During a press call, new Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the department’s greatest priority is to reopen schools in the country as quickly as possible. The letters sent to state governments last week, gave details on how much was allocated to every state, which was based on the number of students in the area.
As examples, Texas and California will receive $12 billion and $15 billion, respectively; while Wyoming and Alaska will receive $300 million and $360 million, respectively. The money will be accessible to school districts by next month, which they can use for the following purposes
- To purchase personal protective equipment (PPE);
- To reinforce payroll in order to avoid layoffs;
- To fund school programs aimed at lessening students’ learning loss;
- To improve classroom ventilations;
- To provide devices and Wi-Fi, and
- To increase additional spaces in order to guarantee social distancing.
Schools to Receive Additional $10 Billion from Health Dept.
EdSec Cardona also announced that the Department of Health and Human Services will be allocating $10 billion of their virus-relief funding. The purpose of which is to aid schools in installing surveillance and testing equipment. The announcement comes as a piece of good news for teachers unions, inasmuch as members have been pushing for testing as a critical aspect in reopening schools.
The president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Randi Weingarten has been emphasizing the importance of testing, as it will help in identifying problems before they get worse. It will also help in preventing variants from spreading, as what has been happening in Europe. According to Weingarten, testing is a key factor not only in reopening schools but also in keeping schools open.