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Local schools to get $1.18M from CARES Act

Troy and Pike County public schools will receive more than $1.18 million in federal coronavirus relief funds.

The funds, announced Monday as part of Alabama’s $1.9 billion share of the CARES Act funding, will be used to provide health care supports and digital devices for the schools. Schools will receive $70 million for health care supports and $100 million for the digital devices.

According to the breakdown, Pike County Schools will receive $264,354 for health and wellness support and $377,648 for digital devices and software. Troy City Schools will receive $221,954 and $317,078, respectively.

“We appreciate the additional assistance,” said Dr. Mark Bazzell, superintendent of Pike County Schools. “We anticipate the majority of these funds will be used to bring internet services to students. We have already made a substantial investment in devices for students. We will wait on our final numbers to budget the remaining funds.”

The Education Health and Wellness Grant can be used to pay for:

• Salaries for health care professionals or aides to provide COVID-19 response or care,

• Contracts for COVID-19 testing,

• Temporary facility improvements and supplies for nurses’ work areas for COVID-19 response,

• Creation of isolation areas for symptomatic students,

• Temperature screening equipment

• Modifications to school buses to mitigate or isolate the spread of COVID-19

Each district received at least $70,000, with the remaining funds pro-rated based on the number of students considered vulnerable.

The $100 million will be used to purchase digital devices and software to facilitate virtual learning, a critical need in places like Pike County, where only 60 percent of households have access to high speed internet. Each district received $100,000, with the remaining funds distributed on the same weighted formulas.

Each local education agency applying for reimbursement under the Education Remote Learning Devices Grant Program, prior to expending funds, must provide the Alabama State Department of Education:

  A remote learning plan compatible with the devices to be purchased,

• Iinformation 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.

“I appreciate Governor Ivey’s continued commitment to education in Alabama,” state Superintendent Eric Mackey said in the release. “The health and well-being of our students, teachers, and staff is a virtal part of being able to deliver high-quality instruction to our students.”

Districts must submit a written plan before receiving the funds and must spend funds by Dec. 30.

“I appreciate Gov. 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,” Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said in the release.