Wisconsin Legislators OK Giving In-Person Schools More Federal COVID Aid
Those Wisconsin schools that continued with in-person classrooms will see more federal Coronavirus aid than those schools that went virtual. The Wisconsin Legislature recently voted to prioritize the share of funding based on that protocol with an 11 to 4 vote according to news sources.
Virtual and hybrid schools would still see a percentage of those federal funds. The vote by the Wisconsin Legislature though would offer more of those federal dollars to the schools that chose to remain with in-person, in-classroom instruction.
Lawmakers who voted for the proposal cited many reasons for their decision. Central to their arguments was that those in-person schools "incurred costs for things like transportation and cleaning supplies that districts exclusively offering virtual instruction have not". They also cited the "rising suicide rates and mental health crises among students during the pandemic as well as spikes in substance abuse and domestic violence".
The State of Wisconsin will receive about $686 million in funding from the federal government for K-12 schools under congress' Coronavirus Response Bill that was passed last year. The terms of the bill state that about 90% of the funding will be distributed based on the number of low-income students in each school district. It's the remaining 10% that gets determined by state legislators - this is the funding that will be priority-distributed to those in-person schools.
Opponents to the state bill say that this vote will create "difficult decisions this spring, especially if there are regional spikes in virus cases". They suggest that some schools might remain with in-person learning in deference to the potential for additional funding in the future.