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Schools have expanded access to funding for distance learning
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Kobee Vance, MPB News

The State Board of Education is working to ensure school districts across the state are better prepared to engage students through distance learning, now that schools are closed for the remainder of the semester. MPB’s Kobee Vance reports.

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Mississippi schools are receiving more flexible funding options during the Coronavirus pandemic to help meet the needs of students through distance learning. State Superintendent Carey Wright says schools will soon see federal dollars provided through the CARES act.

“I think all districts, particularly those that are struggling to provide distance learning, really need to be thinking very carefully about how this money should be spent. They not only have this CARES money that they have a year to spend.”

School districts could also carry over additional funds to the next school year through federal waivers. Chief Academic Officer Nathan Oakley says the board has applied for these waivers.

He says the waivers will also give more flexibility in how funding can be spent.

“To allow districts to address the needs of their staff more broadly. And one of those needs may be connected to implementation and use of technology to deliver content to students in a remote setting.”

Superintendent Wright says she is concerned after medical experts warn there could be a resurgence of the Coronavirus in the fall. With these additional funds in hand, Wright is encouraging districts to spend this money on distance learning initiatives.

“That’s one of the reasons that we’re preparing some of the guidance documents that we have to try and guide them through what it is that they need, so when this does occur again, more districts will be able to provide a high-quality distance learning program.”

The board has also applied for a waiver on test scores, and has relaxed some requirements for scholarship funded education centers that are not operating during the Coronavirus pandemic.