Emergency funding for schools included in President Joe Biden's coronavirus relief package, intended to help schools immediately return to in-person classes, won't be fully spent until 2028.
Just $38.6 billion of the $128.6 billion allocated for emergency educational funding in President Joe Biden's proposed coronavirus relief package will be spent by the end of 2022, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Monday. The Biden administration has repeatedly stated that public schools nationwide require the funding in order to return to in-person classes, but hasn't explained the vast majority of the funds is going to be spent after 2022.
\”The President's plan will make sure we have every resource we need to defeat this virus and get life back to normal, including $130 billion to help ensure our kids can go back to school safely,\” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said throughout a press briefing Feb. 3.
\”The reason for giving funding, or supporting funding and getting it to school districts is to ensure that teachers are safe, that kids are safe, that there is necessary [personal protective equipment], that there is ventilation in the school, that there's the environment that allows for children to come back safely,\” Psaki said later in the briefing. \”And that is the President's focus.\”
The White House's official coronavirus relief strategy plan released in January promised that the $130 billion in funding is needed districts avoid lay-offs, close budget gaps and implement screening testing. The program didn't mention that the funds would be allocated over a seven-year period.
Teachers' unions, meanwhile, have consistently opposed efforts to reopen schools through the pandemic. The two largest national teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association also supported Biden's emergency educational funding plan that will be spent by 2028.
\”Making these necessary investments may be the only way to ensure that school buildings and campuses are reopened in a safe and equitable manner which all students have what they need to thrive,\” NEA President Becky Pringle said in a statement.
Nearly $70 billion in emergency funding for schools was already allocated to states throughout the pandemic, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
In December, Biden pledged to reopen most public schools in his first 100 days as president. However, Psaki clarified last week that the plan was to open most schools for in-person classes once per week by the president's 100th day in office.
A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed that re-opening schools posed little risk to students and teachers. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Feb. 3 that teachers don't need a vaccination before going back to in-person classes.
After the administration rebuked Walensky's comments, though, the CDC backtracked and issued guidance Friday that will encourage most schools to remain closed. Eighty-nine percent of all children within the U.S. live in a county considered a \”red zone\” under the guideline, meaning they would have to stick to remote learning, based on CNN.