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More funding similar to CARES Act funding Ohio school districts received earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic is headed to the state.

The Ohio Department of Education said it expects to receive money from the Elementary and Seconday School Emergency Relief Fund II (ESSERII) “soon,” of which 90% of the funds will go to traditional schools districts and community schools.

Documentation from the federal Office of Elementary and Secondary Education shows Ohio is set to receive $1.99 billion of the more than $54 billion allocated nationwide. Distributions ranged from $127 million for Vermont to almost $7 billion for California.

A spokesperson for the ODE said the funding would be distributed using the Title I formula, which uses U.S. Census data to identify low-income communities. This is also how the $489 million in CARES Act dollars were distributed in May, according to spokesperson Mandy Minick.

The funding for the second round of federal funding came from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was enacted on Dec. 27.

While the funds can still be used for “preventing, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19” according to the ODE, the new funds can also be used to address learning loss, prepare schools for reopening, as well as testing and upgrading school building air quality.

Within six months of the awarding of the funds, a report is due to the U.S. Secretary of Education detailing “how the state is using the funds to measure and address learning loss among students disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and school closures.”

Specifically, this includes low-income students, children with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, homeless children and youth in foster care.

This story was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal.

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