Vermont Schools Receive Covid Relief Funds

VERMONT - Last week, President Biden announced another wave of federal Covid relief money for schools. This time, a package worth $81 billion dollars will help cover Covid relief and school reopenings for K-12 schools across the country.

This money is coming from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, or ESSER. This will be the third time since last year that Vermont has received money from ESSER. Vermont received $31 million dollars last spring, and another $127 million dollars this past December, and this time Vermont is poised to receive $285 million dollars. 90% of the ESSER funds that come to Vermont will go directly to schools across the state.

Vermont's Secretary of Education, Dan French, believes this money will be very useful for Vermont's next phase for schools, which they call the "recovery phase". "Something I think districts will like is it's going to be extremely useful to address expenses related to Covid. We have been open all along, so the cost for us is not really about opening our schools, it's about what are we doing in the next phase in our response."

The ESSER monies are one-time funds, so French urges schools who create programs with this money to be mindful of how they can sustain the programs once the funds run out. French hopes that once schools use the funds for covering Covid expenditures, that they then shift the money to working on upkeep and repairs of school facilities.  "My hope is that districts focus on using these funds, assuming they used the funds to satisfy their immediate needs relative to the Covid response, then to shift to prioritizing improving the health and safety of their buildings. Which is a permissible use of funds under the federal law."