BY AMBER SMITH KENTUCKY
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Some relief is coming to Kentucky school districts amid the pandemic. The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) received $928 million in the second round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency relief as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
What You Need To Know
- Ky. Department of Education received $928 million in second round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency relief
- Commissioner Dr. Jason Glass said it is four times more federal funding than Kentucky received last year
- The new funding can be used to address learning loss due to the pandemic
- Federal funds can also be used to help districts repair school buildings to better meet health guidelines and safety protocols
“It’s going to allow us to do some amazing things for kids in terms of experiences. Our kids and families have missed out on so much this past year in terms of quality learning experience,” Glass said.
The new funding can be used to address learning loss due to the pandemic. This includes using the funds for things like assessments. Stanford researchers estimate the average American student has already lost half a year of learning in reading, and over a full year of learning in math since the start of the pandemic. Glass said it will take a while to figure out how it has affected Kentucky students.
The federal funds can also be used to help districts repair school buildings to better meet health guidelines and safety protocols. KDE also reports districts can use the money to pay mental health professionals, nurses, substitute teachers when teachers are on quarantine or for teacher salaries to support intervention and remediation services. It can also be used to provide emergency leave days for employees. KDE said school districts are no longer required to provide COVID-19-related emergency leave but are still allowed to do so.
Glass said KDE is still waiting for more guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on what schools can and cannot use the money for. He explained it will likely be able to help schools make up for the lost time by potentially providing extended day services this spring, summer school experiences, or early starts to the new school year.
“How can we create an amazing experience for our kids that they otherwise would not have had? How can we make up for what they missed out on this past year?” Glass asked.
He said his first priority is getting students back into the classroom safely. His next priority, he said, is creating experiences that will help students fall in love with school again.
Kentucky school districts should have some of this funding available for this spring. Glass said more information on the use of the new federal funding and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines will come in the next Superintendents’ Webcast on Feb. 9.