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Schools receive $220 million more in CARES funding

School divisions in Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Southampton, Surry and Franklin will receive a share of more than $220 million allocated to K-12 public education from federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security funding.

Suffolk will receive $2,417,590; Isle of Wight’s share is $981,120. Franklin will receive $518,368 and Southampton County will receive $453,285. Surry County’s share is $118,633, according to an Oct. 8 announcement from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.

The funding is intended to support COVID-19 preparedness and response measures for the 2020-2021 school year, including testing supplies, personal protective equipment, sanitization and technology for distance learning. Money was allocated to all of Virginia’s 132 public school districts using a formula of $175 per pupil based on fall enrollment. Every school division received a minimum of $100,000.

“Students, teachers, principals and parents are going to great lengths to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic amid a new school year, and we must do everything we can to support them,” Northam said in a statement. “This additional $220 million in federal funding will give our schools the resources they need to continue operating and provide Virginians with a world-class education, whether safely in person or remotely from home.”

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to K-12 and higher education since the start of the coronavirus pandemic this spring. The latest round of funding supplements $66.8 million provided to Virginia through the federal Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, and an additional $587.5 million allocated to the state in May under the CARES Act. This included $238.6 million from the Education and Secondary School Education Relief Fund for K-12 activities, and the CARES Act also provided $343.9 million for higher education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

Virginia school divisions continue to face challenges associated with maintaining health protocols and increased technology needs. Some school divisions in Hampton Roads are easing in-person learning restrictions — or considering doing so — while others plan to continue virtual learning.

“We applaud Gov. Northam’s commitment of more than $220 million in federal CARES Act funding to our public schools,” said Dr. James Fedderman, president of the Virginia Education Association. “COVID-19 has brought huge new challenges for our students and educators, and members of the Virginia Education Association have made clear throughout the pandemic that additional, necessary services require additional funding. This action will help keep our students safe, healthy, and learning.”

Virginia’s Secretary of Education, Atif Qarni, echoed that sentiment in the governor’s announcement.

“Virginia’s teachers are heroes, and they are doing an incredible job in the midst of this pandemic,” said Qarni. “This funding will help ensure the safety of students, families, and teaching staff, all while providing critical support for our most at-risk students.”