Schools would get access to over $100 million in emergency funding to help them deal with the coronavirus as part of a broader March 17 proposal from the Trump administration.
The supplemental $100 million for the U.S. Department of Education would be accessible to K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities. It would be earmarked for Project SERV, a program that helps schools recover from traumatic events, and could be used to “help clean and disinfect affected schools, and assist in counseling and distance learning/online learning costs,” according to the proposal.
Districts have previously used SERV grants in the aftermath of shootings, community violence, and hurricanes.
In addition, schools would get access to $12.5 million in emergency aid at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Pediatric Environmental Health Specialties Units to provide “guidance and outreach” on best practices for disinfecting facilities.
This aid to schools is part of a $45.8 billion package in supplemental fiscal 2020 funding to help federal agencies respond to the virus. Russ Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a letter prefacing the funding request that it is “not intended as a broad-based solution to the major economic dislocation wrought by the virus, nor is it the primary means by which the Federal Government plans to address the hardships of families, individuals, and communities who have been touched by the disease.”
Democrats are seeking $3 billion in coronavirus aid for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education to respond to the virus in a separate funding proposal. It’s possible that request from Democrats in Congress could get rolled into a much bigger federal government stimulus to shore up the economy.
Separately, the Senate is considering the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This legislation would ease current restrictions on student access to school meals and provide certain job protections, such as paid leave, for public employees, including teachers. It would also provide certain employment protections for those who are forced to stay home from work in the event of school closures.
Photo: Reporters raise their hands to ask a question of President Donald Trump during a White House press briefing with the coronavirus task force March 16, 2020, in Washington. -- AP Photo/Evan Vucci