President Biden said he will reward the efforts of school districts who have upheld mask mandates and other protective measures to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading as the schoolyear began. This is in conjunction with his strategy to “protect the health and safety of students, educators, families, and school communities,” per a press release from the U.S. Department of Education.
The U.S. Department Of Education announced a grant program that will give schools funding that may have been taken or withheld due to going against state mandates, such as Texas, to prevent schools from requiring masks for teachers, staff, and students. Dallas ISD continued to require masks throughout their district due to the state order not specifying the school district by name.
Previously, there was said to be a penalty of $1000 for masks being mandatory. Per the statement from the U.S. Department of Education, Project SAFE (Supporting America’s Families and Educators) will allow funding for any pay cuts to staff, superintendents, and school board members. The new grant program, Project SAFE (Supporting America’s Families and Educators), anticipates using funding within the Department of Education from Title IV, Part F, School Safety National Activities, of Every Student Succeeds Act, the statement said.
“Every student across the country deserves the opportunity to return to school in-person safely this fall, and every family should be confident that their school is implementing policies that keep their children safe,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them. We stand with the dedicated educators doing the right thing to protect their school communities, and this program will allow them to continue that critical work of keeping students safe.”
Schools will receive a Notice Inviting Application to move forward in applying for the grants. This is planned to arrive with the next few weeks. President Biden is also pushing for schools to take other precautionary measures for COVID-19 including a vaccine requirement for staff. This is part of his plan to maintain that schools stay open and that students receive learning in-person rather than remote.
The American Rescue Plan allotted schools to use money to give regular testing for COVID-19 and to keep schools safe during the school day. President Biden is encouraging schools to use the American Rescue Plan to help reduce the number of COVID cases throughout the schoolyear.