HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania schools will get nearly $5 billion from the federal COVID-19 aid package, the Wolf administration announced Monday.
School districts must use at least 20% of the money to address learning loss from the pandemic as well as support the “social, emotional, and academic needs of underrepresented students,” including students from low-income families, those with disabilities and English language learners, according to the governor's office.
Schools may use the rest of the money for professional training, technology, cleaning supplies, summer and after-school programs, and mental health services and other expenses.
About $4.5 billion will go directly to public school districts and charter schools, with the state Department of Education publishing each district's allocation on Monday.
The Education Department itself will get about $500 million for various initiatives and to assist career and technical schools, intermediate units and other education entities that do not get a direct allocation.
The money comes from the $1.9 trillion COVID relief measure that President Joe Biden signed earlier this month.
“This extra funding is critical to help schools meet the unique needs of educating students at this time while keeping school buildings safe when students return to the classroom," Wolf said in a written statement.
Most Pennsylvania schools have resumed at least some in-person instruction, though others have remained shuttered for a full year. The state recently prioritized teachers for the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in a bid to help schools reopen.
The state's overall vaccination effort has recently picked up steam, with about 38% of the adult population now having received at least one dose, according to the latest federal data.
Pennsylvania is racing to stay ahead of a recent surge in coronavirus infections. New COVID-19 cases are up more than 40% in recent weeks to an average of nearly 3,600 per day across the state. Hospitalizations have increased, as well.