UPDATE: Aid for US Private Schools
After months of wrangling and negotiations, Congress passed a new round of COVID relief on December 21, 2020. The legislation, now signed into law, establishes a new $2.75 billion Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) program. Details of the EANS program are as follows:
The governor of each state will have until February 8, 2021 to apply for that state’s share of the funds.
Each state’s State Educational Agency (SEA) will administer the program.
As far as the allotment individual private schools will receive, the law says that each SEA “shall prioritize services or assistance to non-public schools that enroll low-income students and are most impacted by the qualifying emergency.” This gives SEAs considerable room for interpretation.
The law requires SEAs to make a good faith effort to quickly process private schools’ applications and to provide the assistance.
The law spells out the variety of ways the funds can be used. Scroll down to see the entire list.
Crucially, the bill is written such that a public agency will maintain control of funds in much the same way as occurs with existing equitable services programs. This should, in theory, insulate private schools from becoming recipients of federal financial assistance
The bill also allows schools to be reimbursed for certain past expenses. Depending on what is being reimbursed, such reimbursements could constitute federal financial assistance.
Also, of great importance: private schools will not be allowed to accept aid both under this program and the new round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that the bill authorizes. Private schools will have to choose one or the other. Schools that received a PPP loan prior to December 27, 2020 will still be eligible.
It is absolutely essential that private school advocates reach out to their governor and SEA, asking them to participate in this program. SEAs should also be encouraged to ensure that all private school students can benefit from this emergency relief. The letter from the secretary of education to governors can be seen here. Talk to your State CAPE!
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