As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, its impact on education has been significant to say the least. Issues like school closures, child care needs, and more have been raised to policymakers as they consider how to confront this crisis. To address these concerns, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate education committee, along with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), introduced the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act.
Yesterday, the governors of Maryland and Ohio cancelled public school in their states for weeks. Many districts have already closed and more districts—and states—are likely to follow. Child care centers are facing either closure or trying to ensure their facilities are sterile, especially with a potential influx of children with school cancellations. Institutions of higher education have moved instruction online, either temporarily or for the remainder of the semester. Some have even cancelled for the semester.
This legislation tackles all of these areas as they are all having a major impact in the lives of students and families across the country. Each of these issues are large and very different from one another. The specifics of the effects on higher education have been profound, especially given the many residential colleges where students live in close quarters, and this bill tackles those issues head on.
The Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act provides more than $3 billion through grants overall. Higher education gets a large slice that pie in this bill. First, the bill provides $1.2 billion in funding to ensure students’ basic needs—like housing, food, health care, and child care—are met.
With students having to leave campus in the middle of the semester, this is important as many are homeless if they aren’t on campus and face food insecurity. This is especially true for those students whose work might be disrupted by moving or by employers closing due to the crisis.
Additionally, this bill ensures that this disruption doesn’t negatively impact a student’s financial aid. For students that withdraw, they would not be forced to repay their federal student loans from this semester. Low-income students would not have to repay their Pell Grants either. This is critical as students might need to withdraw for the semester due to moving or health reasons.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) released a statement supporting the legislation. “NASFAA applauds these lawmakers for acting quickly to find a solution to support financial aid recipients, who may now find themselves in dire situations in the face of this pandemic. We look forward to working with lawmakers as this situation unfolds and the impact of these closures and shifts to online learning come into focus.”
As Congress considers how to address the health issues of the coronavirus, as well as the associated economic issues, they must address concerns in the education community as they will have a large impact that is likely to ripple into other areas.
- Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children releases annual needs assessment – Idaho News
- Education Majors Experience COVID-19 in the Classroom – Tennessee Tech Oracle
- Board of education to review spring extracurricular events – The Daily Republic
- Vouchers May Be The Next Big Education Reform. Have Charter Schools Been Left Behind? – Forbes
- School Reopening Vote Gives ‘Unilateral Authority’ To Mass. Education Commissioner, Local Teacher Says – wgbh.org
- US Dept. of Education curbs decision on race-based ‘affinity groups’ – New York Post
- Federal COVID-19 relief could help Louisiana higher education avoid budget cuts this year – Shreveport Times
- Uighur woman living in France speaks out about alleged Chinese ‘re-education’ camp horrors – ABC News
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