School Bus Transportation: COVID-19 Relief Funding

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shutterstock_669670867If your school district is in need of school bus transportation upgrades to help you deal with COVID-19 or to otherwise upgrade your school, there's good news. Congress has passed several bills recently aimed at providing COVID-19 funding to schools, and there is currently a lot of money to be claimed.

In this article, we'll briefly go over what was passed, how much funding is available, and what it can be used for.

What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Relief Funding for School Districts

At the end of 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which included substantial COVID-19 relief funding for schools. All in all, the appropriations bill included $54.3 billion dollars for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund, as well as an additional $1.3 billion earmarked for the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund. This is on top of the $3 billion already provided to GEER under the CARES Act, which was passed in Spring 2020.

As the name suggests, the GEER funds are provided to state governors to use at their discretion to encourage COVID-19 protections within their state. Some of the activities for which these funds can be used for include:

  • Materials, supplies, and equipment aimed at improving school safety and encouraging reopening of school facilities.
  • Technology - both software and hardware - intended to facilitate distance learning, as well as associated support services.
  • Surveillance and contact tracing systems, in the case of outbreaks.

The money provided under ESSER is administrated separately from GEER, but the basic guidelines are the same. The amount of money allocated to each state varies depending on their level of Title 1 funding. You can click here (PDF) to see how much funding your own state will receive.

These guidelines include upgrades you might make to your school bus transportation system. For example, plexiglass barriers, cleaning supplies, video surveillance, and even WiFi hotspots could all be funded under these programs. Fundamentally, if you can make an argument for a particular upgrade helping you cope with COVID-19, it probably qualifies for funding under these programs.

For more information, you can also click here (PDF) for specifics on GEER or here (PDF) for details on ESSER.

We strongly urge school districts to investigate their options carefully. Even if you feel you have COVID-19 under control in your district, this could be an excellent opportunity to implement needed school bus transportation system upgrades at a reduced cost. With budgets being stretched thin these days, every extra dollar helps!

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Is your district going to be taking advantage of these new funding options? What upgrades do you have planned? Let's talk about it in the comments below!