Biden Seeking $130 Billion to Reopen Schools in Stimulus Plan

  • Money to fund mitigation such as reduced class sizes, PPE
  • Goal: most schools open within 100 days of inauguration

K-12 schools would get $130 billion to speed reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic in a relief package President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team outlined.

That money could be used to pay for virus mitigation efforts such as reduced class sizes, improved ventilation in school buildings, and purchasing personal protective equipment. It could also be used to facilitate remote learning, according to a copy of the proposal senior Biden administration officials provided Thursday.

The president-elect has made it a top priority to reopen most schools within 100 days of his Jan. 20 inauguration. The country’s K-12 campuses were forced to close abruptly last spring as the pandemic surged in the U.S. Millions of students are still learning remotely months into the new school year.

The long-term school closures have slowed academic progress, according to some early assessments. Educators fear disadvantaged students will suffer the most without in-person classes. Rising numbers of Covid-19 cases led many schools to shut down for a second time in the fall after initial attempts to reopen.

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Toys and desks line an otherwise empty hallway at Collins Elementary School in Pinole, Calif. on Dec. 30, 2020.

A portion of the funding for K-12 schools would be reserved for grants to address equity in education, the Biden proposal shows. Schools could also seek reimbursement for mitigation measures through Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund. They would get federal support for new regular testing protocols.

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College Students

Colleges would get another $35 billion in pandemic assistance in the proposal. Public institutions and community colleges, as well as minority-serving institutions such as historically black colleges, would be eligible for the money. College students would also receive emergency grants of as much as $1,700.

Governors would get $5 billion in discretionary money for education relief in the proposal.

A coronavirus aid package Congress passed last month (Public Law 116-260) included $54.3 billion for K-12 schools and $22.7 billion for colleges. Education groups supported the relief but said schools still needed more federal assistance.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Kreighbaum in Washington at akreighbaum@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com

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