Biden COVID Stimulus Plan Provides Additional Funding, Aims to Reopen Most Schools
On Thursday night, President-elect Joe Biden released the details of a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to control the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthen the economy, and target support to the communities most impacted by the pandemic. Paramount to the plan is a commitment to reopen schools quickly and safely, “so kids and educators can get back in class and parents can go back to work.”
The plan emphasizes the students hit hardest by the pandemic, including Black and Hispanic kids, students with disabilities, and English language learners. The American Rescue Plan includes $170 billion in additional supplemental funding for education, to be distributed regardless of whether schools are able to resume in-person instruction.
Of that amount, $130 billion would be directed to K-12 schools to go toward efforts that address the inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, safety efforts such as reducing class sizes and improving ventilation systems, and for hiring counselors and nurses. “Districts must ensure that funds are used to not only reopen schools, but also to meet students' academic, mental health, and social and emotional needs in response to COVID-19,” the plan stresses.
$35 billion from the Biden plan would be dedicated to expanding the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to support public health on campuses, remote learning, and student financial aid. Finally, $5 billion would be reserved for a Hardest Hit Education Fund to be distributed at the discretion of governors. Those funds can be used for early childhood, K-12 and higher education.
To bring the plan to fruition, Congress will need to act. House and Senate Democrats have pledged to make another round of COVID relief their primary agenda item this winter and were quick to applaud the plan.