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State Board of Education Approves CARES Act Funds For Remediation And Summer Bridge Programs

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The State Board of Education approved the allocation of $70 million Thursday from federal CARES Act funds for school districts and charter schools to provide summer programs aimed at helping elementary students who were in kindergarten through fourth grades during the 2019-20 school year needing extra instruction in reading or math because of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board also approved a formula for allocating $35 million from CARES Act funds for the purchase of computers or other devices for use by students and staff.

Under legislation the General Assembly approved earlier this spring, the Remediation and Summer Jump Start funding provides resources to districts and charter schools for providing the additional instruction. Half of the the total funding, or $35 million, is based on the percentage of students in second and third grades during the current year who were not on track to meet year end expectations in reading.

JB Buxton, chairman of the board’s Student Learning and Achievement Committee, said that the summer instruction is intended for students most in need of academic support.

“These programs are intended to accelerate learning for students who are behind – in advance of the start of school,” Buxton said, “and most for second and third graders.”

Districts and schools are being directed to prepare plans for their summer programs by June 22 based on the program guidelines presented to the State Board today by the Department of Public Instruction. The Remediation and Summer Jump Start plans will provide a framework for delivering a supplemental summer learning program for students whose learning has been negatively affected by the impacts of COVID-19, based on these criteria:

** Reading interventions for students who were in kindergarten through grade three during the 2019-20 school year who were not on track to meet 2019-20 year-end expectations based on diagnostic assessments completed prior to March 16.
** Reading interventions for students who were in fourth grade during the 2019-20 school year who were not on track to meet 2019-20 year-end expectations as identified by their 2019-20 school year reading teachers.
** Math interventions for students who were in kindergarten through grade four during the 2019-20 school year who were not on track to meet 2019-20 year-end expectations as identified by their 2019-20 school year math teachers.

In addition, districts and schools are being directed to consider guidelines from the CDC andDHHS to determine the best model for their summer programs. Possible options, in ranked order, are:

1. Face-to-face instruction

2. Remote instruction

3. For those rare cases where districts cannot plan face-to-face or remote instruction, funds should be applied to build capacity for delivering reading instruction by providing training for K-3 teachers in the science of reading.

4. A combination of the models mentioned above in an effort to meet the individual needs of the district.

Board members stressed that in-person instruction should be provided, as long as health conditions allow.

“I hope that face-to-face will be used wherever possible,” said board member Jill Camnitz, who expressed concern about the effectiveness of remote instruction.

Olivia Oxendine, vice chair of the Student Learning and Achievement Committee, raised concerns about safe health conditions for students and staff.

“We want to be sure that brick and mortar schools are safe and that transportation is safe,” Oxendine said.

On the funding allocation for the purchase of computers or other devices by districts and charter schools, the board approved an an allocation formula that applies to districts that indicated a need via a recent survey. Funding will be allocated based on 50% ADM enrollment and 50% poverty as indicated in Census data.

The board will review allocations to individual districts and charter schools during a called meeting June 11 to consider other COVID-19-related actions.

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