The Delaware County Council voted earlier this month to provide $20 million in federal CARES Act funding to the Delaware County Intermediate Unit and public school districts throughout the county to address COVID-19 related expenses.
The council approved the agreement on Sept. 2 in a unanimous vote, said a statement issued by Adrienne Marofsky, the county’s public relations director.
The funding is provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, known as CARES, which was approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March.
The money can be used for providing internet connections and related equipment to students in qualifying low-income families, additional sanitation, procurement of personal protective equipment, and other needs, the county statement said.
“Supporting education and funding needs of schools is a very important aspect of COVID-19 relief and necessary for recovery,” said Councilwoman Elaine Schaefer. “It is our obligation to get this money to those entities as they begin the school year and will likely face even more challenges throughout year.”
Purchasing cleaning and sanitizing products that meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or Department of Health criteria.
Training and professional development of staff on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
Purchasing equipment, such as personal protective equipment, thermometers and infrared cameras.
Modifying existing areas to effectuate appropriate social distancing to ensure the health and safety of students and staff.
Providing mental health services and supports, including trauma-informed approaches for students impacted by the COVID-pandemic.
Purchasing educational technology for distance learning to ensure the continuity of education.
Other health and safety programs, items or services necessary to address the COVID-19 disaster emergency.
Providing internet connections and related equipment to students in qualifying low-income families.
Eligibility for internet connectivity services will be determined using parameters for housing assistance, free and reduced lunches, and/or other applicable programs, as determined by the county executive director.
The Delaware County Intermediate Unit will assist in distributing the money to school districts according to the existing Title I formula to public school districts. The council directed that a priority for the funding should be addressing the “digital divide.”
The Title I formula is designed to provide financial assistance to school districts with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families where resources for distance learning are less likely to be in place. The amount will vary per district.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a multitude of issues for our schools and school leaders, including coping with the many unexpected costs, overwhelming uncertainty and lots of moving pieces,” said Maria Edelberg, executive director of the Delaware County Intermediate Unit.
“While our districts have done a great job working with what they have, an influx of these additional monies from the county CARES Act funds will be very helpful to districts, some of which might see their budgets slashed as local and state tax revenue falls. DCIU is happy to be the conduit by which our school districts will receive these much-needed dollars to help cover costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.”