Georgia schools to get $47M in emergency education relief funds

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Georgia schools and educators will get their share of $47 million from the latest federal COVID-19 aid meant for schools, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday.

It is the first round of the second installment of the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER II), provided by the federal government to help K-12 schools and higher education institutions respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we work to meet the needs of students, parents, and teachers by maintaining in-person learning, we know that our schools and education support organizations will need additional help,” Kemp said in a statement. “We also know our education providers play a critical role in providing the workforce needed to combat the health and economic effects of the pandemic. This round of funding is geared toward the goal of keeping our kids in the classroom with minimal disruption to their education while strengthening that classroom-to-workforce pipeline.”

The funding was provided through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), which was signed into law by former President Donald Trump in December 2020. Kemp’s office expects the second round of GEER II funds to be awarded after additional federal guidance.

In the first round, $15.4 million will be given to K-12 teachers, early learning teachers and paraprofessionals for classroom expenses. K-12 teachers and classroom staff will get $125 each.

Another $6 million must be used to address students’ mental health needs as studies show COVID-19 restrictions and isolation has caused psychological issues. Kemp is directing $5.5 million to extend a mental health initiative, initially funded through GEER I, until July 2023.

The governor also has directed $8.32 million to address the commercial driver shortage. Six technical schools will receive the funding to support their commercial driving programs. Four state universities also will receive $3.1 million to train nurses, supporting an increasing need during the pandemic. The allocation also provides funds for the state to build partnerships between K-12 school systems and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The governor allocated $1.3 million to hire more math and literacy teachers, $4.1 million for creating and replicating 10 new charter schools in underserved communities, and $4.7 million for dyslexia screening and intervention. Additionally, $1 million was awarded for STEM education and $200,000 for music education.

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