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Utah receives final portion of $615M federal school relief

July 7, 2021 GMT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Schools in Utah gained access to an additional $205 million in federal relief on Wednesday after the U.S. Education Department approved plans from several states detailing how the funding will be used to get students caught up on learning lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

Utah is among the first few states to get approval for spending plans explaining how they will spend their shares of a $123 billion infusion of federal education relief. Arkansas, South Dakota, Texas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., also had their plans accepted Wednesday.

Most of the funding was released to states in March, but a third was held back until states had their spending plans approved. Utah first received $410 million of the $615 million allocated to the state.

Utah Superintendent Sydnee Dickson said the state plans to use the extra federal funding to cover the costs for boosting its summer school and after-class offerings with a particular focus on helping children from underserved communities, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The state will also use some of the funding to research how children were affected during the pandemic and compile data on grades, attendance and test scores.

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“The pandemic’s impacts were sprawling,” Dickson said. “But with this money, we can start to re-accelerate student learning for those impacted the most.”

School districts and charters in Utah will submit funding requests to the state with plans for how they would use the money as part of a competitive grant process.

States must distribute most of the funding among school districts using a formula that favors systems with high concentration of poverty. Schools have wide flexibility in how the funding is used, but at least 20% must help students who have fallen behind in school during the pandemic.

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said it’s encouraging to see how states are using the relief aid. Their plans “lay the groundwork for the ways in which an unprecedented infusion of federal resources will be used to address the urgent needs of America’s children,” he said in a statement.