Kentucky schools are getting another infusion of money to assist them with unplanned expenses incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money will pay for a wide range of expenses, including programs to offset learning loss and repairs and improvements to schools to prevent virus transmission.
The amounts are four to five times higher than the first round of funding last spring.
In Northeast Kentucky, amounts ranged from $805,000 in Raceland to $7.6 million in Carter County.
Area school officials already are generating priority lists and almost all of them said some of the money would go toward reversing the learning losses that were the inevitable result of children being away from their classrooms.
Among them are summer and after-school programs to provide some of the teacher-student contact lost during months of virtual learning.
“We have quite a few needs in the area of remediation and that’s going to be a focus for us,” Greenup County Superintendent Traysea Moresea said.
Moresea said kids also will need help in the mental health arena to make sense of the virus threat and other national problems — problems they hear about but don’t entirely understand.
Districts are waiting for more specific information on how they can spend the money, Russell Superintendent Sean Horne said. “We’ve got a lot of ideas, but the focus is on catching up,” he said.
That could mean summer programs and one-on-one interventions for children who need work in specific areas.
Russell’s food service program has taken on additional expenses and some of the money might offset that spending, he said.
The funding comes at an opportune time for Carter County, whose local planning committee has identified heating and air conditioning needs at its two middle schools, Superintendent Ronnie Dotson said. Guidelines for the funding support that use because upgraded systems would include air purifying technology that would cut down virus transmission, he said.
The money can also offset expenses already incurred in retrofitting schools for social distancing and reducing virus exposure, according to Boyd County Superintendent Bill Boblett. His schools have spent considerable sums on plexiglass barriers, additional desks to replace classroom tables and other furniture, he said.
Boyd also has hired additional permanent substitute teachers, and the money can pay for that if the expense is related to the pandemic.
Also a possibility is more technology hardware such as the Chromebook computers students depend on to attend virtual classes, Ashland Superintendent Sean Howard said.
The process for distributing the money has been streamlined and districts are being encouraged to spend it quickly, according to the Kentucky Department of Education.
The money also can be used to pay for nurses, mental health workers and emergency leave, according to the department.
Districts will not receive a lump sum. Rather, they will submit spending records for reimbursement, Greenup County business manager Rebecca Fyffe.
Districts also will get a share of $19.5 million in a second round from the state Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. Locally, amounts range from $21,892 for Raceland to $213,246 for Carter County, according to the KDE.