U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced recently more than $4 billion in additional COVID-19 emergency relief is now available to governors to ensure learning continues for students of all ages and at all schools.
This emergency relief aid, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, has two components: supplemental GEER awards (GEER II) and the Emergency Assistance to Non-public Schools (EANS) awards, which comprise $2.75 billion of the total.
These funds are authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021, (CRRSA) Public Law 116-260, signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on Dec. 27, 2020. In total, CRRSA authorizes $81.88 billion in support for education, in addition to the $30.75 billion Secretary DeVos expeditiously provided this spring through the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“As I’ve said from the beginning of this pandemic, parents are counting on strong and decisive state, local, and school leadership to ensure their students can continue to learn in ways that work for them,” said Secretary DeVos. “While some state and local education leaders have risen to the occasion, far too many parents are frustrated by a stunning lack of access to in-person learning for their kids. Every governor needs to utilize these taxpayer funds to safely reopen schools and ensure all students have the option to learn in person if that is what they want or need. The impact of school lockdowns has been disastrous for our students — especially those from low-income families. And, far too many private school students have suffered because interest groups, politicians, and lobbyists predictably played politics and protected their own lucrative gigs with taxpayer funding. I was pleased to see, this time around, that Congress finally acknowledged what this Administration has said all along: All students and all educators at all schools — private, parochial, and public — are affected by this pandemic, and they all need and deserve support for PPE, cleaning supplies, learning materials, and more.”
The $2.75 billion in EANS funding provides services and assistance to non-public schools to address educational disruptions. These funds support activities related to safely reopening schools, continuing instruction, and addressing learning loss.
The Department will allocate EANS awards to each governor on the basis of their state’s share of low-income, school-age children who are enrolled in non-public schools. Governors will need to submit the EANS application. In less than half the time provided by Congress, the Department issued a Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for these funds. Governors are urged to promptly apply; the Department will approve or deny EANS applications as promptly as possible, likely within 24 hours.
In addition to the EANS program, Congress also allocated an additional $1.3 billion for supplemental GEER II awards. That program largely parallels the CARES Act GEER Fund, which provided governors nearly $3 billion in April 2020. Allocations for the supplemental GEER II Fund are also based on the previous GEER Fund formula: 60 percent of funding is allocated based on a state’s population aged 5-24 and 40 percent based on the proportion of children whose families fall below the poverty line.