Education dept. announces nearly $24 million in funding to support reopening plans
The Virginia Department of Education is planning to put millions of dollars from the CARES Act toward helping schools start to get back to normal from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane, the department will use the $23.9 million set aside for the commonwealth from the CARES Act to help schools support vulnerable students, make up missed instruction, and protect the health and well-being of students and staff throughout the three stages of
“We have had extensive conversations with school divisions since the closure in mid-March to identify their most pressing needs and the areas where help from the state is most needed to reopen schools safely in accordance with the governor’s reopening plan and the recommendations and considerations in VDOE’s ‘
,” Lane said. “Our top priorities in distributing the set-aside funds are supporting students with disabilities as they return to the classroom, supporting school divisions as they provide opportunities for students to make up instruction lost during the spring, and making sure that schools and buses are safe as children transition back to in-person instruction.”
The money being set aside is part of the $238.6 million that Virginia received from the CARES Act Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief fund. Lane said the set-aside funds will support state-level initiatives to help schools through the reopening process and during the 2020-2021 school year.
that the other 90% of the $238.6 million awarded to Virginia will go directly to school divisions and other pre-K-12 education agencies based on the formula for awarding Title I funds under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
The following initiatives will be supported through the $23.9 million set aside:
• $5 million for grants to school divisions and private programs and providers for compensatory services and to support class-size reductions for students with disabilities to maintain social distancing in classrooms.
• $5 million for grants to school divisions for summer academies to make up instruction lost during 2019-2020 and help students transition to 2020-2021. Funds will support remote and phased in-person instruction, including early childhood services to prepare students for kindergarten.
• $3 million for upgrades to schools to implement public health best practices upon schools reopening, including hot water access, protective screens in reception areas, and personal protective equipment for staff.
• $2 million in grants to school divisions for cleaning supplies and other materials and equipment for use in schools and buses to support safe environments consistent with public health best practices.
• $1 million in grants to school divisions for intensive mental health services and supports for students returning to school and in need of services due to on-going impacts of the pandemic.
• $1 million to support expansion of instructional content and assessments in Virtual Virginia and GoOpenVA for student and family access during the closure and phased reopening of schools.
• $1 million to support remote and virtual learning by providing individual and regional grants to school divisions for teachers to create content and curriculum for GoOpenVA, Virtual Virginia and local learning-management systems.
• $917,000 to support locally delivered fall diagnostic assessments to identify students' instructional needs and learning gaps, including alignment and linking studies.
• $750,000 to support a state-coordinated, evidence-based assessment of student social-emotional learning in fall 2020 upon reopening of schools to screen for student needs and support transition back to the classroom.
• $500,000 for regional grants to school divisions and grants to higher education institutions to contract with professional development providers to support teacher and staff needs for providing online instruction and remote support services and address students' social-emotional learning needs.
• $500,000 to cover unreimbursed costs of school divisions that provided emergency child care for essential personnel.
• $500,000 to develop guidance and provide technical assistance to divisions or regions on the safe reopening and operation of schools and implementation of public health best practices.
• $400,000 to automate routing and approval processes at the Virginia Department of Education and at the division level to ensure continuity of operations in the remote work environment.
• $300,000 to support state-coordinated family engagement and family literacy activities during the closure and phased reopening of schools to strengthen the remote-learning environment and support the transition of students back to the classroom.
• $200,000 to support agreements with public media stations to continue the development of grade-level and course content for VA TV Classroom during the closure and during the reopening process.
• $200,000 to support the development of actionable local and regional plans to ensure every student has internet access at home and maximize state and federal funding for this purpose.
• $200,000 to support teacher technology training to increase teachers' effectiveness in the use of remote and virtual learning instructional strategies and techniques.
• $150,000 to support jointly operated regional high schools with full-time students (these full-time programs do not receive specific allocations from ESSER or other CARES Act funds to cover costs related to the pandemic).
• $50,000 to support pandemic-related communications in multiple languages to ensure all stakeholders and communities receive effective and timely information on pandemic-related school issues.
• $1.193 million to cover administrative costs, including programmatic and fiscal staffing and grants and contracts supporting the administration of the grant.