Alachua County Public Schools is the first school district in the nation to receive a grant from the federal government to make up for funding withheld over mask requirements in schools.
The district has been awarded an initial sum of $148,000 by the U.S. Education Department through its Project SAFE grant program. The program reimburses school districts for funding withheld by a state government because of mask requirements and other COVID-related protocols.
Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon was informed of the award during a phone call earlier Thursday with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Cardona personally congratulated Simon for the steps the district has taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools and the community.
“With these grants, we’re making sure schools and communities across the country that are committed to safely returning to in-person learning know that we have their backs,” Cardona was quoted in a recent news release. “I commend Alachua for protecting its students and educators, and I look forward to working with them to provide students their best year yet. Every student across the country deserves the opportunity to return to school in-person safely this fall, and every family should be confident that their school is implementing policies that keep their children safe.”
“I’m very grateful to Mr. Cardona, President Biden and the federal government for the funding,” Simon said. “But I’m even more grateful for their continued support and encouragement of our efforts to protect students and staff and to keep our schools open for in-person learning.”
So far, the Florida Department of Education has withheld two months worth of salaries for the four School Board members who voted for the mask mandates, including Board chair Dr. Leanetta McNealy, vice chair Tina Certain, Board member Rob Hyatt and Board member Dr. Gunnar Paulson. That amounts to nearly $27,000.
Previous stories related to this article:
- Federal judge upholds DeSantis mask order (Sept. 17)
- Appeals court reinstates school mask mandate ban (Sept. 10)
- Judge vacates stay, allows school mask mandate (Sept. 8)
- SBAC files court challenge to FDOH emergency rule (Sept. 4)
- Judge: State cannot garnish school board wages (Sept. 2)
- FDOE garnishes school board wages (Aug. 31)
- Judge blocks DeSantis ban on mask mandates (Aug. 27)
- ACPS sticks to mask policy as state deadline passes (Aug. 22)
- Simon rebuffs state order to alter mask policy (Aug. 20)
- Judge will hear case against DeSantis face mask order (Aug. 19)
- SBAC extends face mask mandate for 8 more weeks (Aug. 17)
- McNealy, Simon respond to FDOE as court date nears (Aug. 11)
- State launches investigation into ACPS mask policy (Aug. 10)
- Legal filings take aim at school mask mandate ban (Aug. 8)
- DeSantis dings SBAC for requiring masks (Aug. 5)
- School board: Masks on students for first two weeks (Aug. 3)
- DeSantis: School mask mandate equals loss of fund (July 31)