KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Roughly $55 million of federal CARES Act funding will be allocated toward education in Missouri.
Margie Vandeven, commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said Monday that $10 million will go toward reimbursements for schools districts and charter schools “for costs associated with increasing student connectivity and expanding campus WiFi networks for the coming school year.”
“We have previously shared how the digital divide among Missouri students was magnified during extended school closures this spring, with approximately 20% of our students unable to access online coursework,” Vandeven said during a Monday press briefing.
The funding, according to Vandeven, will allow roughly 250,000 new internet connections for students.
Another $10 millions of CARES Act funding will be used to create an assessment tool to “gauge the level of learning loss or growth” students experienced during school closures. The results will be used to “develop strategies to accelerate learning” for those who might have fallen behind, according to Vandeven.
Another $7.5 million of CARES Act funding will reimburse transportation expenses from delivering meals to students during school closures.
“This was such an important way for us to continue caring for our students, and we know many Missouri families counted on this help with schools serving over 19 million meals through the pandemic," Vandeven said.
As part of a cost-sharing program with local counties, $7.5 million will cover the cost of personal protective equipment and cleaning/medical supplies for schools and buses, Vandeven said.
DESE also will use $20 million from Gov. Mike Parson’s emergency education relief fund and the DESE relief fund state reserves for schools to provide “additional student devices.”
“As I will continue to reiterate, our teachers and parents went to extraordinary lengths to continue providing educational opportunities for students,” Vandeven said. “Many students and teachers may have thrived in this new environment. But we are also aware that many did not families and educators are eager for schools to reopen.”