Wheatley: Vital federal funding instrumental in helping our schools navigate pandemic challenges

PITTSBURGH, April 27 – State Reps. Jake Wheatley and Austin Davis, both D-Allegheny, joined U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle and Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet to discuss federal relief recently awarded to the district.

Wheatley, D-Allegheny, said the district will receive roughly $122 million in funding under the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

“These funds are critical to providing needed support to our school students and teachers as they continue to navigate a myriad of challenges,” said Wheatley. “Our schools have had so much to handle, and these federal dollars will ensure our district’s students and teachers get the vital assistance they need and deserve to continue to provide a safe and conducive learning environment.”

“We all know how hard it’s been for schools to educate children remotely over the last year due to the pandemic,” Doyle said. “We saw the challenges our public schools are facing as they reopen. They have had to adopt new protocols and procedures to keep everyone safe, make improvements to their buildings and equipment to prevent COVID-19 transmission, and work to help kids where they’ve fallen behind while the schools have been closed. That’s a tall order and that’s why I supported the American Rescue Plan and its predecessors, which have provided critical assistance to schools throughout the country. Reopening our schools safely and giving them the educational opportunities our children deserve must be a top priority.”

It was exciting to visit Pittsburgh Public Schools with Congressman Doyle to see firsthand how the American Rescue Plan is helping our students and educators bounce back from the pandemic,” said Davis. “The federal plan is sending billions of dollars in COVID and economic relief to Pennsylvania, which is why the legislature should use that funding to invest in our commonwealth’s future. The Pennsylvania Rescue Plan would do so in areas beyond education by making investments that will make our communities, families, schools and local economies stronger than ever.”

“We are grateful for the actions taken by Congressman Doyle and the Pennsylvania legislature to take action to issue schools the much-needed funding to support us as we work to meet the unique challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, ” said Hamlet. “Through this support, we can ensure all schools have access to the technological advancements they need to provide all students access to the high-quality education they deserve.” 

This funding is part of nearly $5 billion allocated to Pennsylvania. School districts and charter schools are required to use at least 20% of the money to address learning loss and the social, emotional, and academic needs of underrepresented students, including those from low-income families, students with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, English learners, migrant students, and children in foster care.

Schools can use the remaining funds toward food service, professional training, technology purchases, sanitation and cleaning supplies, summer and after-school programs, and mental health supports.

More information can be found at this link: https://www.education.pa.gov/Schools/safeschools/emergencyplanning/COVID-19/CARESAct/March2021/Pages/Allocations.aspx