As our state continues to grapple with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the normal operations of Nebraska's education system have been severely interrupted. In Nebraska's school districts, teachers face the challenge of keeping students engaged through distance learning. The CARES Act, signed into law last month, recognizes the urgency of our nation’s educational needs and earmarks $30.75 billion of Education Stabilization Funds for relief to help states' education systems recover. At the federal level, the dollars will be distributed through three funding streams:
Nebraska will receive:
While the Education Stabilization funds are intended to directly reinforce K-12 and higher education institutions, these resources also affect early childhood programs in every part of the state. CARES Act funding can be used to help schools address the needs of children in school-based preschool programs, particularly children in low-income families, children with disabilities, English language-learners, as well as those experiencing homelessness or in foster care—many of whom may be in school-based preschool programs. Schools may also use this funding to partner with other organizations and nonprofits to address community needs. As further guidance is issued, communities should work directly with their local school districts to determine if the costs of early childhood services are an allowable expense of the CARES Act coronavirus relief funding.
For early childhood teachers and providers who have TEACH grants, the CARES Act waives a requirement that teachers must serve consecutive years to be eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness. Due to disruptions caused by the pandemic, it is not mandatory that this term of service be uninterrupted.
The Education Stabilization Funds in the CARES Act will provide urgent and much-needed relief for Nebraska’s education system at all levels to meet the significant COVID-19-related challenges facing early education, K-12 schools and higher education.