Earlier this year, the Biden government signed off a multi-billion dollar act which aimed in part to provide relief to school districts around the U.S. who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that schools across the country are beginning to see this money made available, we took a look at how this funding is being put to use in classrooms across the country.
To combat the learning difficulties that have faced students over the past year and a half, many schools are using the funding to increase their staff headcount. This means a higher ratio of teachers to students, allowing more one-on-one time and tuition.
In Ohio, the Columbus City Schools district, one of the largest districts in the country, has detailed some of its aims. First of all, the district is looking to hire 33 new school counsellors across the area, with the aims of having at least one full-time counsellor at each school in the district.
In addition to this, literary specialists are being brought into schools, to address the ‘learning loss’ caused by the pandemic. These specialists are helping children to get caught up to their grade literacy levels, as many fell behind due to the difficulties of home learning.
In addition to increased staff, many schools across the country are aiming to increase learning hours for struggling children.
Schools in Miami-Dade, Florida, have set their focus on using their grant to provide extra learning opportunities for their students through summer schools. The district is currently providing summer schooling for 65,000 students, a huge increase from the 5,000 that usually attend.
Meanwhile, in Dallas, lower-performing institutes will be extending opening hours until 6 pm to facilitate extra learning opportunities.
According to a federal watchdog, around 40% of U.S. school districts need to update the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in over half of their schools. It is then no surprise that many schools are taking a different route with their funds, instead using them to complete long-awaited building infrastructure improvements.
In Lisbon, North Dakota, the district is planning on putting the funds to use by improving their technical education spaces. While Columbus is carrying out HVAC upgrades in 16 of its schools.
If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that technology is an essential tool for education in the 21st century. Many districts across the country have also realised this and invested heavily in their schools’ tech offerings.
The covid relief fund has a huge potential for addressing the so-called ‘digital divide’ between students of lower-income and higher-income areas. Earlier in the year, Texas’ education commissioner stated that federal stimulus funds had enabled the state to almost completely close the gap. Columbus also has its sights set on closing the gap by increasing its tech infrastructure, with laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots being made available for those in need.
Many schools across the country are planning on keeping e-learning options open even past the pandemic. Investment in this area can prove to be hugely beneficial for students’ learning experiences.
By investing in tech such as VEO, students can easily track their progression in several ways. Through regularly uploading practical demonstrations and receiving feedback that benchmarks against marking and examination criteria.
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