Advocates such as Chip Slaven, Chief Advocacy Officer for the National School Boards Association, say that much more resources are needed and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) is only a small step forward.
The CARES Act, which passed the U.S. Senate unanimously and will now be considered in the House of Representatives, would provide $30.75 billion in emergency relief funds for the U.S. Department of Education with $13.5 billion for K-12 emergency relief grants and $3.5 billion reserves for use and distribution based on local need as director by governors. The CARES Act requires Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to approve and distribute the funds within a month of receiving state applications.
From Education Dive:
In 2009, the Obama administration passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package following the 2008 economic crisis. That legislation included approximately $77 billion for schools, a “significantly larger amount of money” compared to the $13.5 billion that is in the CARES package. The $77 billion at the time was put to use even though students were still physically in school without the threat of a pandemic.
Now, with students at home during coronavirus-related closures and a complete shift in district operations, the need is greater, according to the NSBA. “Based on what we’re hearing and seeing, ultimately schools are going to need a lot more help than what’s in this current package,” Slaven said.
States would have flexibility in how they use funds with uses including cleaning and disinfecting supplies, providing mental health services, purchasing 1:1 devices and internet services for students without laptops and internet access, training and professional development, etc. There are concerns that current version of the CARES Act does not carve out any funds specifically for telecommunications, leaving some wondering if there is more room for improvement to ensure protection of efficient spending.