Secretary of Education Authorizes New Funding Flexibilities to Support Continued Learning

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today a new streamlined process for providing states funding flexibilities to best meet the needs of students and educators during the COVID-19 national emergency. The new flexibilities, authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allow schools to repurpose existing K-12 education funds for technology infrastructure and teacher training on distance learning, among other flexibilities to move resources to areas of highest need during the national emergency.

“Across the country, students, teachers and families are proving that learning can and does happen anywhere,” said Secretary DeVos. “By extending additional funding flexibility to schools, we are helping to ensure student learning continues and supporting teachers as they transition to virtual classrooms. Local leaders have asked for the ability to steer more resources to local needs, and these new tools will help them do just that.”

The CARES Act, signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on March 27, now allows states and school districts to devote more of their federal resources to technology infrastructure to support distance learning for students and for professional development for teachers who are teaching remotely, many for the first time. By providing a streamlined process to obtain funding flexibilities, states will be able to quickly make decisions to meet the needs of their students.

Any state may complete a brief form available at oese.ed.gov, and it will receive an initial determination within one business day. Using the form, states can receive flexibility in the use of funds and other requirements covered under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), including the Title I, Parts A-D, Title II, Title III, Part A, Title IV, Parts A-B, and Title V programs. Specifically, states may request a waiver of:

  • Section 1127(b) of Title I, Part A of the ESEA to waive the 15% carryover limitation for Title I, Part A funds;
  • Section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) to extend the period of availability of prior fiscal year funds, for Title I, Parts A-D, Title II, Title III, Part A, Title IV, Parts A-B, and Title V, Part B programs, and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Youth program;
  • Section 4106(d) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA to waive a needs assessment to justify the use of funds;
  • Section 4106(e)(2)(C), (D), and (E) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA to waive content-specific spending requirements;
  • Section 4109(b) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA to waive spending restrictions on technology infrastructure; and
  • Section 8101(42) of the ESEA to waive the definition of “professional development,” which might otherwise limit the ability to quickly train school leaders and teachers on topics like effective distance learning techniques.

This action follows the Department’s earlier announcement of a turnkey waiver process allowing states to cancel federally-mandated standardized testing, in response to widespread school closures in the wake of the declaration of a national emergency. Since that announcement, Secretary DeVos has approved waivers for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It further builds on the Department’s actions to support states and local education leaders since the outbreak of COVID-19, including guidance on ensuring students with disabilities have access to distance learning opportunities and providing an extension for states that need additional time to develop career and technical education plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V).

The Department continues to update www.ed.gov/coronavirus with information for students, parents, educators and local leaders about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the following websites: coronavirus.govcdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html, and usa.gov/coronavirus.

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