The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act, earmarks $30.7 billion under an Education Stabilization Fund for states to spend on education, including $13.2 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund. States will receive a range of funds and all money must be spent by September 2022. The law lists twelve acceptable uses of the relief money which includes 1) Purchasing educational technology including hardware, software, and connectivity to allow for student interaction with instructors; 2) Planning and implementing summer and after school programs including online learning during the summer months; 3) The broadly sweeping statement “Providing principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.” How are states moving forward? Per an EdWeek article, most school districts are planning to use federal coronavirus relief funding to support remote learning, according to a new survey of district IT leaders. For example, California will need to provide daily live instruction either in-person or through distance learning with a requirement of at least three hours of instruction per day. Progress will be assessed a number of ways, including evidence of online activities and completion of assignments. In some Texas districts, however, there will be no additional money from the CARES Act. Instead, that money will make up for money lost during the 2019-2020 school year.
Still, online publishers should expect a surge. In Eugene, Oregon the district will offer a full K-12 online program. In Polk County, Florida students can enroll in the Polk Virtual School for the 2020-2021 school year. In Boise, Idaho students can sign up for an online learning program that mirrors the district’s in-person curriculum. Just a few examples of the many districts who will surely be working tirelessly this summer to plan their online curriculum strategy for the coming school year. For many districts the CARES Act allowance will be key to ensuring that these online programs can be successfully launched.
By: Gina Faulk