MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WBRC) - Governor Kay Ivey has awarded $170 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) toward health care and remote learning in Alabama public schools.
On Monday Ivey announced $70 million to support the Alabama State Department of Education’s (ALSDE) Education Health and Wellness Grant Program and $100 million to support the Educational Remote Learning Devices Grant Program.
“COVID-19 greatly impacted delivery of instruction within our public schools and, in many cases, exposed our weakest areas of remote learning capabilities,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “I appreciate Dr. Mackey’s plan that will provide our students the ability to continue learning despite the unprecedented circumstances. These funds will allow local schools to be flexible to meet the unique needs of their students while keeping them as safe as possible.”
Alabama received approximately $1.9 billion from the CARES Act to respond to and mitigate COVID-19.
The Education Health and Wellness Grant Program will provide $70 million directly to local education agencies for the sole purpose of minimizing the exposure and spread of COVID-19 in Alabama’s public-school system. Local education agencies may only use the grant funds to:
- Fund salaries or wages for health care professionals or aides to provide COVID-19 response or care,
- to contract for specimen collection and testing of COVID-19,
- temporary facility improvements and supplies for nurses’ work areas for COVID-19 response,
- the creation of isolation areas for symptomatic students,
- screening equipment to check body temperature,
- and modification of school transportation vehicles to mitigate or isolate the spread of COVID-19.
“I appreciate Governor Ivey’s continued commitment to education in Alabama,” Dr. Eric Mackey said.
“The health and well-being of our students, teachers, and staff is a vital part of being able to deliver high-quality instruction to our students and this has been a key priority of the State Board of Education. The weighted distribution ensures that funds flow to our most vulnerable students which is critical during the pandemic.”
When asked if schools would like to use the funding for COVID-19 testing, Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said, "They can contract with an outside provider either to do off-site testing or possibly to do on-site testing. But there are many ways they can work that out, if that's what they'd like to do. But what we see, back to your question, is testing only students who present symptoms."
Dr. Mackey said funding will be awarded based on a formula that would account for student enrollment, poverty levels, and the impact of COVID-19.
School districts should be able to apply for grants by the end of this week or next.
The Educational Remote Learning Devices Grant Program will provide $100 million directly to local education agencies to fund the purchase of electronic devices and software and related training and maintenance services, for the purpose of facilitating remote virtual learning and the overall continuity of learning in Alabama’s public school system as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The governor and I are mutually committed to ensuring Alabama’s students have the necessary tools to access a quality education,” Senator Del Marsh, President Pro Tempore of the Alabama Senate said. “I appreciate Governor Ivey’s work with the State Board of Education, the superintendent and others to implement a program through which local school systems can utilize CARES Act funding to meet students’ technology needs for the upcoming school year.”
Each local education agency applying for reimbursement under the Education Remote Learning Devices Grant Program, prior to expending funds, must provide the Alabama State Department of Education:
1. a remote learning plan compatible with the devices to be purchased,
2. information to ensure teachers and instructors are proficient with the operations of the device including technical support,
3. a plan developed by each school to ensure each student has access or availability to the internet, and a plan for maintenance of the devices, including software updates, physical repairs, and replacement of lost and damaged devices.
Funds will be awarded to local education agencies based on a formula that accounts for student enrollment, poverty levels, special education students, English learner students, student proficiency levels and the impact of COVID-19.
All local education agencies will receive a minimum of $70,000 from the Education Health and Wellness Grant Program in addition to the amount determined by the formula. All local education agencies will receive a minimum of $100,000 from the Education Remote Learning Devices Grant Program in addition to the amount determined by the formula.
Any contracts or other agreements entered into by ALSDE or local education agencies that utilize the Coronavirus Relief Fund provided under this memorandum of understanding can only be funded with CRF funds until December 15, 2020, at the latest. After December 15, 2020, a different funding source must be utilized for such contracts or other agreements.