Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced Monday that she is spending $170 million to enhance the coronavirus readiness of Alabama’s public schools.
The funds come from the $1.9 billion Alabama received as part of the federal government’s CARES Act that was passed in an effort to stave off the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the announcement, $70 million is going to the State Department of Education’s Health and Wellness Grant Program, and the other $100 million is going towards the Educational Remote Learning Devices Grant Program.
“These funds will allow local schools to be flexible to meet the unique needs of their students while keeping them as safe as possible,” Ivey said in a statement.
Ivey’s office provided a list of what the $70 million allocated for health and wellness will provide:
- 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.
“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,” advised State Superintendent Eric Mackey.
The $100 million for remote learning devices will allow for the purchase of electronic devices and software at the local level.
Local education agencies must provide the following to the State before receiving approval for a grant that comes from the money announced Monday:
- a remote learning plan compatible with the devices to be purchased,
- information to ensure teachers and instructors are proficient with the operations of the device including technical support,
- 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.
According to the governor’s office, “[f]unds 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,” Ivey’s office added.
State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) commented, “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.”