Government leaders and educators asked Congress in a letter on Friday for more federal funding to improve online learning and provide mental and physical health support for schools reopening in the fall.
In the letter addressed to congressional leadership, the National Governors Association and education groups, including the American Federation of Teachers, the National Center for Learning Disabilities and the State Higher Education Executive Officers, said federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act has been a “lifeline” to help schools and higher education institutions move classes online and make education accessible to students during the pandemic. But to ensure students have continued access to education in the fall, the groups asked Congress to ensure schools receive additional funding and resources.
“To ensure the safety of communities and educational equity, and to allow for in-person and online delivery of education, increased federal investment is critical,” the letter read.
The increased funding, they wrote, would be used for increasing access to broadband and technology, professional development of teachers, higher education and workforce development and curriculum development and delivery, as well as mental health and social-emotional supports for students. The estimated cost of meeting these needs could be as high as $244 billion, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers.
And while the CARES Act provided K-12 schools and higher education institutions with more than $30 billion in funding to move classes online and allows students continued access to learning resources, the groups said that for schools to effectively prioritize student safety and learning for the upcoming school year, access to more funding and resources is essential.
“As Congress considers the next round of COVID-19 relief, we request substantial funding for K-12 and higher education,” the letter reads.
Leaders and educators also asked that funding be allocated without restrictions mandating K-12 or higher education institutions adopt specific models of reopening, such as fully in-person, online or hybrid models.
Since March, there have been several requests from state and local government leaders and educators asking Congress for increased funding to support education during the pandemic, including the Remote Learning During COVID-19 Act, which asked Congress for $5.25 billion to meet the internet needs of 7.15 million families that do not have home internet access.
House Democrats in May also proposed that a second round of COVID-19 relief funding, totaling $90 billion, go to schools and colleges to help support education during the pandemic and facilitate distance learning.
None of these initiatives have yet to succeed, however, and schools have not yet received additional federal funding to support learning during the pandemic beyond what was made available through the CARES Act.