Whitmer Announces $65M In CARES Act Funding For Michigan Schools

MICHIGAN — Michigan school districts and other state education entities will receive $65 million in CARES Act funding to help as they battle the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday in a news conference.

The funding will be used to help close the digital divide as students begin learning virtually and from home. It’ll also go toward improving access to in-person mental health services, small group learning and child care.

“We’ve got to continue doing everything we can to protect our students and educators and support staff,” Whitmer said Wednesday. “And in order to do just that and ensure critical support for our schools, whether it’s helping them access PPE or cleaning supplies or helping students mitigate the impacts of learning loss in districts that need it most, funding will go to Michigan school districts and other education related entities that have been hit most significantly by the COVID-19 pandeic.”

“Focus on simple things that you can control right now,” she said. “Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance and please get your flu shot this fall.”

The funds are meant for districts that are determined to be most significantly impacted by the coronavirus, Whitmer said. To ensure these districts are targeted, the framework distributes $60 million to school districts based on the number of students in high-need student groups, she explained.

Districts will receive funding based on their numbers of economically disadvantaged students, special education students and English language learners. To be eligible for funding, the school district’s concentration of economically disadvantaged pupils, compared to total district enrollment, must exceed 50 percent.

The funding is required to be used toward improving connectivity, such as providing devices, internet access or access to remote services to students. It’s also meant to help assist student mental health by improving access to services.

Funding could be used by districts to offer supplementary content and services to mitigate the impacts of learning loss. Teacher training and curriculum can also be assisted through the funding, the governor said.

Whitmer began her Wednesday news conference by discussing educators and commending them for, in many cases, going above and beyond for their students.

“Teachers across Michigan have been working hard to help their students get a great education from home,” she said. “It has not been easy, but our dedicated educators have been working around the clock to address the digital divide that students in low income communities in particular have been confronting.”

The governor said $5.4 million will be distributed to other education related entities, and will be distributed for statewide mental health services, public television learning resources, implementation of teacher professional learning practices and the Early On program to help reach more infants and toddlers through remote early intervention.

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