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Va. public schools must spend $220 million in CARES Act funding by Nov. 30

Screen protectant put in place at a students desk in Rockingham County.
Screen protectant put in place at a students desk in Rockingham County.(whsv)
Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 9:36 PM EDT
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced $220 million from federal CARES Act funding will be going to public schools around the commonwealth.

Public schools in the Shenandoah Valley received millions of dollars, but all funding must be spent on COVID-19 resources and preparedness like testing supplies, personal protective equipment, sanitization, and technology for distance learning.

Rockingham County Public Schools received nearly $2 million dollars. The state allocated $175 per student based on the fall 2020 enrollment, with a minimum of $100,000 for each school division.

RCPS Superintendent Dr. Oskar Scheikl said the difference between this second round of CARES Act funding is that it must be spent by Nov. 30.

“It’s not as simple as the early CARES Act money that we received because that had a two-year turnaround, so you could plan for projects that you implemented because of this pandemic, for example, additional mental health services,” Scheikl said.

Scheikl said RCPS has been in contact with the Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction, James Lane, about what the money can and cannot be spent on. He said there are many restrictions.

“For example, we can’t spend it on simply making up for money that’s now a budget shortfall because of the pandemic or you can’t spend it on payroll, so we can’t give a staff bonus,” Scheikl said. “There are some very specific things we need to look at.”

No final decisions are made, but Scheikl said possibilities include additional cleaning supplies for when more students are welcomed back to the classroom, technology and transportation.

“We face issues with transportation, in terms of only fitting 20 students on a bus that’s designed for 70 because of the distancing," Scheikl said. "There are always considerations there. What do you do to make that work better? Do we need additional buses? What can we do?”

Scheikl said RCPS was lucky to have received an additional $2 million that Rockingham County shared from its CARES Act funding, which he said funding cleaning supplies and mitigation strategies.

Harrisonburg City Public School Superintendent Dr. Michael Richards told WHSV that school and financial leaders will be meeting on Monday, Oct. 12 to discuss where the city’s $1.1 million going to them will go.

Public schools in the Shenandoah Valley will be receiving the following in CARES Act funding:

• Augusta County: $1,728,283

• Harrisonburg City: 1,122,135

• Page County: $560,158

• Rockingham County: 1,999,865

• Shenandoah County: $1,002,803

• City of Staunton: $467,163

• City of Waynesboro: $490,158

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