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Published in Economic Development
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Gov. Gretchen Whitmer COURTESY PHOTO

Whitmer issues $60M in CARES Act funding for disadvantaged school districts

BY Wednesday, August 19, 2020 04:38pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has released $60 million to help disadvantaged students access learning devices, wireless internet, mental health services and other remote learning materials as school districts return with a mix of in-person and virtual instruction.

Whitmer today announced the funding — provided by the federal CARES Act and released through the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund — during a press conference alongside state Sen. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, and Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Leadriane Roby.

“The state’s most vulnerable students have been most adversely impacted from the pandemic,” said Roby, who started as GRPS superintendent this summer. GRPS is returning to school virtually this fall for at least the first nine weeks.

The funding targets districts with the highest numbers of “economically disadvantaged” students, special education students and English language learners — the students most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Whitmer said. Districts must have at least 50 percent of their enrollment composed of economically disadvantaged students to qualify for the funding.

Whitmer said during the press conference the funding will be issued to “schools that need it the most,” and can be used to buy personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, as well as ease the transition to remote learning and “mitigate the impacts of learning loss.”

Last week, Whitmer and legislative leaders announced a bipartisan agreement outlining a framework for districts that choose to restart either in-person, virtually or a combination of the two. The legislation requires districts to assess their learning plans on a monthly basis.

An additional $5.4 million in CARES Act funding was released for “other education related entities” for mental health, educational public television programming and programs that help infants and toddlers through “remote early intervention.”

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