Policy Matters Blog

Senate Passes COVID-19 Education Stimulus Fund

Last night, the Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) that provides significant funding to help schools, and other industries, address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The House is expected to pass this bill and the President as indicated he will sign it.  This legislation, and other federal actions, contain provisions relevant to school psychologists and other educators who are working hard to ensure that students still have access to learning opportunities and comprehensive school psychological services while schools are closed. We urge you to work with your state and local leaders to ensure that these funds address the needs of the whole child, and that school psychologists are actively involved in the planning and implementation of support delivery systems.

 It is expected that an additional funding package will be passed to address the long term needs of schools when they re-open their doors, and NASP will keep you updated as those talks progress.  We encourage you to share your thoughts about what types of federal investments and actions would be most helpful to your communities and you can send those ideas to kvaillancourt@naspweb.org.  

Specific to schools and issues important to school psychologists, the CARES Act contains:

·      $3 billion that will be allocated to governors to use at their discretion to provide emergency support grants to LEAs that have been most impacted by COVID-19 in their state.

·      A flexible education stabilization fund that includes $13.5 Billion for K-12. These funds can be used for a variety of purposes including:
       -   planning for and coordinating during long-term school closures;
       -   purchasing educational technology to support online learning and support for all students, including assistive technology;
       -   addressing the unique needs of low-income economically marginalized students, English learners, children with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness and foster care youth.  
       -   providing guidance and support related to meeting IDEA mandates; 

·      $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs in order to ensure children receive meals while school is not in session.

·      $750 million for Head Start programs

·      $100 million for Project SERV to help provide support for mental health services and distance learning. Importantly, any state or school district that receives money from this fund must continue to pay its employees and contractors during any disruption or closures related to COVID-19.

Student Loan Relief

The CARES Act provides deferment of all federal student loan payments, without penalty, until September 30th (please direct specific questions about this provision to your loan servicer).    

IDEA Waivers

The bill also includes language that calls on Secretary DeVos to submit a report to Congress regarding any additional waivers, including a waiver of components of IDEA, are necessary to help schools during COVID-19 closures. NASP is committed to ensuring that schools, and school psychologists, are granted reasonable and limited flexibility from certain IDEA requirements, such as evaluation timelines, during COVID-19 related school closures.  We recognize that this is an unprecedented time, and we encourage school psychologists to work with teachers and administrators to consider what is reasonable and appropriate in light of the child's current circumstances as you consider how to best provide learning in a virtual or distance learning environment.  NASP is working closely with our partners to strike the right balance of flexibility while also maintaining student and family rights as outlined in IDEA.   

These are stressful times for you and for the students and families we serve. Your work and dedication to serving our students and families is appreciated.  NASP has, and will continue to develop a host of resources to help you navigate these uncertain times, all of which are available at www.nasponline.org/covid19.