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More federal recovery funding sent South Dakota schools

July 7, 2021 GMT

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — More federal funding is on its way to South Dakota for safely open and operate its schools.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday it has approved emergency relief funds for South Dakota, five other states and the District of Columbia.

For South Dakota, it means another $127 million has been released to the state on top of the $254 million sent in March.

Federal education officials approved of South Dakota’s plan for the funds. The South Dakota Department of Education has three main priorities for the funding, the Argus Leader reported.

The first priority is providing educational opportunities to engage students who fell behind last school year when the coronavirus was raging.

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The second priority is to address students’ social, emotional and mental health needs. South Dakota is partnering with the Department of Social Services to provide access to mental health services through technology to youth in remote areas of the state where access might not otherwise be possible.

The third priority of Secretary Tiffany Sanderson’s plan is to continue to address teacher recruitment and retention. Sanderson said it will be paramount to understand the pandemic’s true impact on the education workforce.

Of the 679 public schools that participated in a COVID-19 impact survey by the education officials in May, 676 of the schools started their school year in August or September. Of those schools, 92% reported most or all of their students were instructed in person.