SCHUMER REVEALS: WITHOUT FED FUNDS, WESTERN NY SCHOOLS MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO SAFELY REOPEN; MOUNTING COSTS, SUCH AS PPE AND INTERNET CONNECTIVITY, COULD BADLY DRAIN LOCAL RESOURCES, MAKING IT MUCH HARDER FOR WNY SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO OPEN SAFELY; SENATOR PUSHES PLAN TO COVER THOSE COSTS WITH FED DOLLARS IN ‘COVID-4’ & ALLOW SCHOOLS TO SAFELY REOPEN
Schumer Says Local Schools, Like Those Across WNY, Have Some State & Federal Guidelines To Reopen Safely Amid COVID-19 BUT Not Enough Fed Funds To Afford Them; Pushes New Plan To Inject $175B Into Nation’s K-12 Schools & $4B For Computers And Broadband To Meet The Need
Without Fed Funds To Cover Massive Cost Of PPE, Barriers, Cleaning Supplies & Internet Access For All Students and Educators, Local Budgets Would Be Crushed & Local Taxes Could Rise; Recent Media Reports Revealed 40,000 WNY Students Lack Sufficient Internet Access
Schumer: It Would Simply Be Nails On The Chalkboard If A Lack Of Fed Funds Kept WNY From Safely Reopening Schools
Citing COVID-19 costs as too big for New York school districts to carry alone and alongside Attica School District officials, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed that without specific federal funds, schools throughout the WNY region might not be able to reopen safely come fall.
“Everyone wants our schools to reopen, but the federal government must lead the way by funding the safety measures that would open the doors of schools throughout the Western New York region in a way that helps ensure the coronavirus does not needlessly spread or infect teachers, kids or staff,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
“Without federal dollars to cover the massive costs of PPE, barriers, cleaning supplies and more, local school budgets across Upstate New York would be crushed, local taxes could rise and some schools might simply stay closed—and we do not want that. That’s why we need to take action in ‘COVID-4’ and commit $175 billion to the goal of safely reopening K-12 schools for all,” Schumer added.
Schumer said costs for personal protective equipment (PPE), physical barriers and other supplies at schools, like those used for cleaning, could badly drain local resources, making it much harder for New York districts to open safely and ensure the collective protection of kids, teachers and staff. Additionally, as school districts across WNY consider a combination of in-person and online classes, Schumer said the stark digital access divide exacerbated by COVID-19 shutdowns threaten to increase inequality in schools and leave students behind. Therefore, he announced a new legislative push to include much-needed assistance in a “Corona-4” legislative package. His plan would work to substantially cover the aforementioned costs with federal dollars, allowing schools to safely reopen. Schumer is pushing for $175 billion dollars for K-12 schools across the country and an additional $4 billion to help purchase computers, tablets, hotspots, and broadband for students and educators, and says New York would see a massive chunk of that allotment.
The Senator’s push to fund broadband access for students and educators comes at a vital time for Western New York. The Buffalo News recently reported that more than 40,000 WNY students are being left behind because they lack technology and/or internet access for remote learning. In Wyoming County, some districts have more than 20% of students have no computer or broadband. While Attica received $164,000 in funding from the CARES Act, under the Senator’s new plan, Attica is estimated to receive $2.1 million and Wyoming would receive a total of about $21 million countywide to deal with new costs due to the pandemic. The school districts in the four-county GLOW region in total would receive an estimated $73 million. Additionally the schools could tap the new $4 billion fund created under Schumer’s plan to provide students with insufficient internet access with hotspots and computers for remote learning. Schumer emphasized that as schools brace for nearly half of a million dollars in new costs just to open next year, the additional federal aid will provide swift federal funding to support the education of students at WNY schools like Attica.
Schumer’s plan, crafted alongside U.S. Senator Patty Murray, was just introduced as the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA), and includes other efforts as well, each critical to supporting childcare and education amid the pandemic. Schumer explained that without major help from the federal government, New York would be devastated and the nation would risk losing 4.5 million child care slots and losing 1.9 million education jobs, exacerbating students’ learning loss.
“The bottom line here is that the coronavirus brought with it unprecedented health and economic challenges for students, families, educators, and learning institutions across the country—challenges disproportionately felt by students of color, students from low-income families, students with disabilities, and more,” Schumer added. “So, action is needed now to save teaching jobs, preserve millions of child care slots, and ensure every student has access to a safe, quality education.”
Patrick Burk, Executive Director of the Genesee Valley School Board Association said, “We know that safely educating our students this fall during the pandemic will require additional expenses and resources that local districts can ill afford. Whether its providing PPE, creating socially distant spacing, or ensuring students have access to quality internet service to complete assignments and homework, schools are bracing for significant new costs. Especially as school revenue sources are threatened, we appreciate Senator Schumer’s push for this additional federal funding that will help our schools carry on the vital work of educating our next generation.”
Highlighted aspects of the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA) Schumer will fight for in COVID-4 include:
- $50 billion for a Child Care Stabilization Fund, to ensure that child care providers can stay open, educators can continue getting paid, and working families get tuition relief;
- $1.5 billion to address and prevent child abuse and neglect, to support the child welfare workforce and to fund community-based prevention programs that strengthen families;
- $345 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund, including:
- $175 billion for K-12 schools, to help schools address learning loss, implement public health protocols, and provide quality education to all students—whether they open in-person, remotely, or a hybrid of both;
- $132 billion for higher education, to help colleges and universities deliver a quality education for their students, implement public health protocols, and provide emergency financial aid to students for expenses like food, housing, child care, and technology;
- $33 billion for a Governor’s Fund, to allow governors to allocate funds for needed educational services to areas of their states hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
- $4 billion for schools to purchase discounted computers, tablets, hotspots, and at-home internet service for students and educators
Previous Article Next Article