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All school systems in Covington County receive combined total of $3.9 million in new COVID-19 relief package

Alabama’s K-12 schools will receive nearly $900 million in federal funds under the coronavirus relief package passed by Congress last month. That’s nearly four times the $216 million they received in 2020 under the first relief package.

All three school systems in Covington County received a combined total of $3,904,197.

Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey told said that priorities for spending the new money will be two-fold: academic recovery and mental health supports. They’ll have until 2023 to spend it.

“This is a lot of money,” Mackey said. “We absolutely have needs (for these funds).”

Districts will be required to lay out their plans for spending that money, and state officials will help them craft their plans, he said.

Mackey said talks are just beginning about how best to spend that money, but he sees a need for districts to provide ways for students to spend more time learning, like extending the school year, offering before and after school tutoring and even planning for weekend school.

“We are continuing to think six months, a year, and two years down the road, as we have been,” he added, and this money will help plan for those needs.

In addition to direct COVID-related expenditures, the new relief money can also be spent on facility upgrades, he said, something that wasn’t allowed under the first relief package.

“Anything that can improve airflow in the building or mitigation systems,” Mackey said, “like specialized UV lights that kill the virus in the air.”

“If you were to invest in that kind of a system,” Mackey said, “not only could it address COVID, but it could help in the long-term with flu and colds.”

Replacing windows and doors could also be an allowable use of the money, he said.

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, signed into law in December, provides $54.3 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund nationwide. That’s on top of the $13.2 billion provided nationwide last March.

While the national discussion has largely been on using federal relief funding to reopen schools, nearly all schools in Alabama have reopened for some type of in-person learning. That’s an advantage for Alabama, Mackey said.

“As I talk to my colleagues across the country,” Mackey said, “we are absolutely ahead of the game having students in school, in in-person instruction.”

With that said, Mackey said school officials need to consider their long-term needs when planning on how to spend it.

“They’ve got to think about making this money last a long time.”

Andalusia City Schools have received a total of $1,143,718. Opp City Schools received a total of $1,051,324. Covington County Schools received a total of $1,709,155.

Broken down, $493,773 of Andalusia’s $1.1 million goes to the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund, $120,998 goes to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, $217,719 goes to Health and Wellness and $311,028 goes to Remote Learning and Devices.

$531,770 of Opp’s $1 million goes to the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund, $88,162 goes to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, $177,632 goes to Health and Wellness and $253,760 goes to Remote Learning and Devices.

$761,729 of Covington County’s $1.7 million goes to the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund, $196,077 goes to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, $309,379 goes to Health and Wellness and $441,870 goes to Remote Learning and Devices.