More of the $2.2 trillion — that is $2,200,000,000,000 — CARES Act funding the federal government allocated for COVID-19 relief earlier this year is headed to South Dakota schools.
Thursday, Gov. Kristi Noem said each public and private K-12 school in the state would receive $500 per student in additional money from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which is part of the CARES Act.
Based on enrollment figures provided by Pierre School District Superintendent Kelly Glodt, his district should receive roughly $1.375 million. For Stanley County and Superintendent Daniel Hoey, the allocation should exceed $200,000.
“Very welcoming news, but we will have a much better answer later,” Glodt told the Capital Journal regarding the funds.
Noem said the new funding, roughly $75 million in total, is pursuant to Wednesday’s updated guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury.
“I appreciate the great work our schools are doing to ensure kids are back in the classroom this fall,” Noem said. “We expect this additional funding will help schools continue to tackle challenges related to COVID-19.”
During a recent interview with the Capital Journal, Glodt said numerous safety changes had been made to mitigate COVID-19 as much as possible. He said this included HVAC upgrades to increase the interior fresh air flow in buildings from 5% to 20%. He also said the district now employs five full-time nurses, one for each building, which is up from three full-time and one part-time nurse last year.
Among the safety upgrades already in place for Stanley County, Hoey said, are plans to regularly clean students’ desks with a hydrogen peroxide-based formula between class periods throughout the school day.
Noem said South Dakota’s K-12 schools also received $41 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Elementary & Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Funds. An additional $5.7 million will be awarded from the Governor’s Emergency Relief Funds at a future date.
Noem made the funding announcement on the same day her Department of Health confirmed there are now more than 3,000 South Dakotans actively battling COVID-19.
Moreover, as of Monday, there were 114 K-12 schools in South Dakota with at least one infection for a total of 195 infections in those schools. Some schools have more than one infection, with 20 schools having at least three.
The new total of 195 infections is further detailed with students and staff members. Staff members include teachers, principals, secretaries, janitors and anyone else who works at the school. Monday, there were 138 students infected, along with 57 staff members.
Friday, both Glodt and Hoey said they were unaware of any individual COVID cases in their districts.
“Starting next Monday, we will list district staff and student positive case numbers, recovered numbers, accumulative numbers, and the current Hughes County community spread status on the district website,” Gloat added on Friday. “Depending on the situation, we may need to make all school or classroom contacts to appropriate parents in the future. Thankfully, we are not in that situation currently. Parents will be notified if their child could possibly be considered a close contact.”