BLOUNTVILLE – Ultimately with past, current and future COVID-19 funding measures, schools in Sullivan County must have received and spent nearly $ 35 million in grants.
The education council at its July 29 council meeting received reports on COVID-19 grants and other grants from Deputy Director Angie Buckles. Most of the money comes from ESSER, or the Emergency Relief Fund for Elementary and Secondary Schools, specifically ESSER 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. Buckles stated that almost all of the funding of $ 2,130,586.59 in 1.0 has been committed and some has been spent, most of the $ 9,176,960.70 in 2.0 is pending and $ 20,610,150.34 in 3.0 requests are due August 31st.
The system has three years to spend the funds unless the federal government extends the deadline, as 1.0 was approved over a year ago.
Buckles said 1.0 funds to keep schools running during the early stages of the pandemic, which sent students to virtual or online operations, went to things such as special education, technology, l virtual learning, a temporary increase in the salaries of substitute teachers and school nutrition.
2.0 funds could go to the same areas and compensate for the learning loss caused by the pandemic; capital projects helping to cope with COVID; bonuses of up to $ 1,000 per employee for those who were employed during COVID; make all nurses full time; technological improvements; up to 10 days of paid leave for COVID issues; kitchen equipment; heating and ventilation equipment and roofs.
3.0 funds must go at least 20% to compensate for learning loss and the remainder for other eligible expenses that cannot be daily classroom expenses.
Proposals include before-school, after-school and summer programs, class size reductions to help with social distancing, learning loss coaches for teachers, and transportation for in-service programs. outside of the regular school day or year.
The system also funds a project manager to manage capital programs.
In addition, the system will receive funding of $ 2,459,019.24 in epidemiology and laboratory capacity to address COVID-19 issues, including testing and automatic defibrillator replacement, and approximately $ 100,000 for one year. , including $ 30,000 in supplies, for a rural life from the Niswonger Foundation. Literacy coach position.
Acting school principal Evelyn Rafalowski said after the BOE meeting that the health protocols for the opening of the 2021-22 school year, including no mask warrants and no COVID-19 vaccine requirements, do not should not be changed.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently revised its guidelines to recommend requiring people to wear face masks in schools nationwide and other closed areas in areas – like northeast Tennessee – with high COVID-19 infection rates.