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Betsy DeVos Releases First Coronavirus Emergency Aid for K-12 Schools

By Andrew Ujifusa — April 14, 2020 2 min read
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Governors can now officially apply for billions in aid intended to help public schools address the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Tuesday.

The $3 billion in aid for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund was included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law last month. In a statement, DeVos stressed that this application is “streamlined” to make it easier for governors; she also said that governors have a chance to “truly rethink and transform the approach to education during this national emergency.”

“At a time when so many school boards and superintendents have shut down learning for the balance of the school year,” DeVos said in a statement, “I want to encourage each and every governor to focus on continuity of education for all students. Parents, families, teachers, and other local education leaders are depending on their leadership to ensure students don’t fall behind.”

She also highlighted that these grants for governors are “extraordinarily flexible.” Individual governors will decide how much of the money goes to K-12 education versus higher education.

The $3 billion governors’ fund is separate from the $13.5 billion in the CARES Act earmarked just for K-12; at least 90 percent of it must go out to districts based on the Title I funding formula for disadvantaged students. DeVos has yet to announce that this larger pot of money is available for districts.

The billions in CARES Act for schools might not be enough to stave off overall cuts to education in many states, we reported last week. For example, if all states were to cut their current aid to K-12 by 8 percent, per-pupil spending would decline in all 50 states even after accounting for CARES Act assistance, according to one analysis.

See: Education Week’s Map of Coronavirus and School Closures

The application for the CARES Act governors’ fund is here. It is seven pages, not including the cover page and the appendices. The governor’s fund is based on two factors: the relative population of people ages 5 to 24, and the number of children counted under a section of Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

DeVos made separate CARES Act aid for higher education available last week.

Photo: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visits a class at Greater Johnstown Elementary School in Johnstown, Pa. (John Rucosky/The Tribune-Democrat via AP)