First funds available to assist with plans for safe reopening
On Tuesday July 7, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced $81 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) funding is available through grants for K-12 schools and higher education institutions to assist with plans for safe reopening.
“Reopening our schools, colleges and universities is a key priority and grant funding ensures institutions can make proper accommodations to keep educators and students safe as we continue to fight COVID-19,” said Gov. Lee. “This first wave of funding provides for technology and distance learning supports as well as measures to improve social distancing.”
K-12 Grants – This first wave of grant funding includes releasing $11 million for grants to local education agencies (LEA) to support reopening efforts from the Coronavirus Relief Fund Grants. An additional $50 million will be made available to support technology grants that can be used on wi-fi devices, laptops, or any other devices needed to support reopening.
LEA Reopening and Programmatic Supports – ($11 million) – Reopening grants are noncompetitive grants to support cohorts of districts with continuous learning plan implementation throughout the year in amounts ranging from $25,000 – $150,000 each.
District Technology Grant – ($50 million) – These grants support district device strategies as necessary components to implement distance learning. The Tennessee Department of Education will launch a noncompetitive grant program managed through TDOE ePlan that allows for a match program.
More information regarding K-12 grants, including how to apply for the funding, will be provided directly by the Tennessee Department of Education to districts through their ePlan login.
Higher Education Grants – This initiative focuses $20 million in grants to public and nonprofit private higher education institutions for Coronavirus Relief Fund including two-year (TBR) and four-year public and private (TICUA) institutions.
These grants will be available to cover expenses associated with implementing social distancing and technological improvements for distance learning. THEC in cooperation with the Department of Finance and Administration will oversee administration of funds. Funds will be made available to institutions based on their low-income student population.
Regionally-accredited public and private, nonprofit institutions of higher education (IHEs) who are both eligible for Title IV funding and domiciled in Tennessee may apply. Eligible IHEs will be able to spend Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) allocations to support direct expenses related to minimizing COVID-19 spread, including:
Social Distance Expenses – As precautions for public health, IHEs are expected to make physical changes, limit enrollment in on-ground classes, and install or upgrade technology. IHEs may adapt classroom configurations to ensure classes are taught in a socially distanced manner. Similarly, residential IHEs may incur costs to provide student housing that complies with COVID-19 health precautions.
Online Transition – IHEs are leveraging technology to manage social distancing recommendations while also preparing to suspend physical operations due to further COVID-19 outbreaks.
Two common options include online course delivery to manage overflow from capped courses and shifting educational activities to an online format in late November to limit student holiday travel.