Michigan is using $65 million in federal funding to support school districts that are most significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made the announcement Monday about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars for schools. The money is for school districts, higher education institutions, and “other education-related entities that have been most significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the governor’s office.
The governor says the money is going to disadvantaged districts and will help address the digital divide that has served as a barrier to remote learning for students and educators across the state. The funding comes from the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund.
“As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and approach the start of the new school year, we must continue doing everything we can to protect our students, educators, and support staff. This funding will help us do just that, and ensure crucial support for our schools, whether it’s helping schools access PPE and cleaning supplies or helping students mitigate the impacts of learning loss in districts that need it most,” said Whitmer. “This is a good start, but we still need the federal government to work together on a bipartisan recovery package to support all Michigan students and educators, as well as state governments, families, and small businesses.”
GEER funds are meant for districts that are determined to be most significantly impacted by COVID-19.
“To ensure these districts are targeted, the framework distributes $60 million to school districts based on the number of students in high-need student groups. Districts will receive funding based on their numbers of economically disadvantaged students, special education students, and English language learners. To be eligible for funding, the school district’s concentration of economically disadvantaged pupils, compared to total district enrollment, must exceed 50%,” reads a statement from Whitmer’s office.
What the funds are for
The recipients are required to use the GEER funds for:
- Connectivity: Devices, internet access, access to remote services, or other similar purposes.
- Student Mental Health: Funding would enhance access to remote and in-person student mental health services.
- Addressing Learning Loss: Funding could be used by districts to offer supplementary content and intervention services to mitigate the impacts of learning loss.
- Out-of-School-Time Learning: Funds could be used to support out-of-school-time learning. These expenditures would ensure students have safe spaces to participate in remote education.
- Remote Learning Materials and Training (digital and non-digital): Funds could address both digital and non-digital content where remote learning continues as an instructional delivery model.
- Teacher Training and Curriculum: Funding could be used to provide additional professional development and curriculum modifications that allow districts to effectively facilitate distance learning while expanding their knowledge of the science of teaching.
- Other health, safety, and wellness needs identified, required, or recommended in the MI Return to School Roadmap.
Meanwhile, the governor’s office said $5.4 million will be distributed to other education related entities and will be distributed for statewide mental health services, public television learning resources, implementation of teacher professional learning practices, and the Early On program to help reach more infants and toddlers through remote early intervention.
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