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Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds for Schools: Where Do We Stand?

Congress reconvened earlier this week, their top priority being to move forward on a new coronavirus aid bill. In May, the House passed the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion rescue package that Republicans quickly dismissed as “unrealistic.” The HEROES Act would provide a total of $2.63 billion in aid over two years. The Act would provide much-needed funds for schools across the U.S., which would mitigate the nationwide loss of an estimated 1.9 million education jobs.

In this, the COVID-19 era, schools are in need of additional staff and resources to reopen schools safely and support virtual learning. Schools need more resources to address the current crisis, not less. The HEROES Act is a means to provide schools, districts, educators, and staff the resources that they need to ensure the health and safety of themselves and students while providing high-quality education. It is of the utmost importance that Congress provide at least $175 billion “to distribute to states and local districts, allocated by formula based on poverty, to fill COVID-19 budget gaps that will hurt students in school and on campuses.”

Republicans in the Senate and the White House reached an agreement Thursday on some coronavirus relief measures, including $105 billion for schools. Within the school funding, $30 billion is allocated for colleges and universities, $70 billion for K-12 and $5 billion in funds earmarked for gubernatorial discretion, much like the GEARS funds in the CARES Act. Unfortunately, there have been attempts to try and tie this money for schools to a forced reopening that limits state and local control. Per the Senate Republicans' proposal, “half of the money for K-12 schools would go to all schools on a per Capita basis; the other half would be distributed to schools that go back to a traditional school setting rather than using distance learning.” Such proposals are dangerous and undermine the work that states and local districts have done in developing and implementing reopening policies that work within their local context.

Please contact Senators Enzi and Barrasso and ask them to fully support the HEROES Act, as passed by the House. It is also imperative that you ask them to oppose tying education funds to a traditional reopening model. Our schools, our students, and our community deserve leadership and policies that have their best interests in mind. The HEROES Act is that policy. Please help us in making sure Wyoming’s Senators know that their constituents support this measure.

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