More Than $60 Million to Go to Virginia Schools to Offset Pandemic Learning Losses

by Tyler Arnold


To offset learning losses caused by the shutdown of in-person public education, Virginia will be spending more than $60 million in recovery grants for public schools, Gov. Ralph Northam announced.

After public schools in the commonwealth were completely shut down for in-person classes for a period of time, the governor implemented restrictions that required hybrid teaching models that included both virtual and in-person learning for months. Since those guidelines have been lifted, some schools have returned to fully in-person education, while some are still using a hybrid model.

To minimize the learning gaps caused by the closures, the state will provide $62.7 million in LEARNS Education Recovery grants. About $55 million of the funding will come from federal relief and the remaining $7.7 million will come from state funds.

“Over the past year, we have worked tirelessly to minimize educational disruptions and meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of our children, and we must accelerate these efforts to have an equitable recovery,” Northam said in a statement. “This funding will enable school divisions to offer extended learning opportunities for those who have fallen behind and create targeted programs to address the impacts of lost instructional time during the pandemic. Our Administration remains committed to providing the necessary resources to our schools to ensure every Virginia student is equipped for success as we move forward.”

Slightly less than half of the funding will be spent to address unfinished learning. This includes money to support in-person instruction and small group learning; virtual learning, technology and staff training; social-emotional, behavioral and mental health support; alternate learning opportunities; progress monitoring and assessment; and remediation, extended instruction and enrichment.

The rest of the money will be used for costs associated with implementing year-round or extended-year calendars.

“I am optimistic that when students return in August and September, they will have the opportunity to experience school as they did before the pandemic,” State Superintendent James Lane said in a statement. “But the impact of school closures and limited in-person instruction will not disappear immediately, especially for our most vulnerable learners. These grants will support the Commonwealth’s school divisions as they implement equitable strategies to meet the individual needs of all students during the 2021-2022 school year and beyond.”

School divisions can apply for grant money through the Virginia Department of Education by the May 28 deadline.

Republican lawmakers have been critical of how Northam handled public education and have been urging him to re-open schools for in-person education five days per week.

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Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.

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