- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office.
Michigan schools with students from lower-income families will receive $65 million in additional federal coronavirus relief funds to help provide resources and services that are needed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday.
The money is intended to help economically disadvantaged schools that have been most impacted by the coronavirus. Many students in lower-income areas, for example, don’t have access to the internet to learn remotely.
“As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and approach the start of the new school year, we must continue doing everything we can to protect our students, educators, and support staff,” Whitmer said in a news release. “This funding will help us do just that, and ensure crucial support for our schools, whether it’s helping schools access PPE and cleaning supplies or helping students mitigate the impacts of learning loss in districts that need it most.”
The funding comes from the Governor’s Education Relief Fund (GEER), which is intended to help districts that are the most impacted by the coronavirus. School districts are eligible if at least 50% of the students are economically disadvantaged, which is generally defined as students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.
“It’s essential and appreciated that Gov. Whitmer is focusing these resources on districts with the highest need during this pandemic,” Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart said in a statement. “Both from a public health and from an educational standpoint, economically disadvantaged communities need these additional funds to keep students safe and academically engaged. Equity in education funding is a critical issue and it’s encouraging to see Gov. Whitmer remain committed to addressing disparities so every student gets a great education no matter where they live.”
Eligible schools will be required to spend the money on services and resources such as internet access and digital devices, programs that provide access to remote and in-person student mental health services and other health, safety and wellness needs, and remote learning materials and training.
“The GEER funds announced today are a significant step forward in equitably meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of our most at-risk youth,” Dr. Leadriane Roby, superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools, said in a statement.
During a news conference Wednesday, Whitmer urged residents to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
“COVID-19 won’t magically go away,” Whitmer said. “It is still ver present. The pandemic won’t end just because we’re tired of dealing with it.”
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