Shelton schools to get $1.8 million in federal COVID funds

Shelton schools to get $1.8 million in federal COVID funds.

Shelton schools to get $1.8 million in federal COVID funds.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — The school district is receiving nearly $2 million from the latest wave of federal relief funding.

School superintendents across the state received notice Friday from the Connecticut State Department of Education of $492.4 million in a second phase of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds directed to the state.

Shelton’s share is $1,815,928.

“This is very positive news for the district,” Superintendent Ken Saranich said.

Made available under recent federal coronavirus aid legislation, the funding is designed to allow districts to enhance school safety, prevent learning loss and address the pandemic's mental health impact on students. That includes using it for computers or building projects that would qualify under the federal relief funding.

Saranich said no formal discussions have been held about where to use the money.

"We've been pushing new concepts at the state level to put in place minimum grading and attendance standards for virtual learning, and I'm hopeful this funding will allow school districts to use some of our proposals,” said state Rep. Ben McGorty, R-122.

“I think we as a legislature need to continue to listen to the concerns of parents and give them some clarity on how their children will be able to make up for lost learning going forward," he said, adding that the three communities he represents received nearly $7 million combined.

McGorty said the funding can be used by school districts for the following purposes:

Improving COVID-19 response coordination between school districts and state, county and local public health authorities;

Addressing learning loss through assessment, tracking student attendance and engagement in distance learning, and evaluating academic progress in comparison to a student's pre-pandemic performance;

Need-based outreach for students of all backgrounds, including children in low-income households, those in foster care, those with disabilities and those struggling with homelessness;

Purchasing PPE and sanitation supplies and training staff in proper sanitation and personal protection practices;

Ensuring instruction is consistent with requirements under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;

Planning and implementing supplemental instruction like summer school or aftercare;

School facility improvements and repairs for indoor air quality.

Earlier in January, McGorty said he and his Republican colleagues unveiled a set of proposals intended to address the difficulties experienced by students, parents and educators navigating virtual learning.

Among the proposals were uniform minimum requirements for online classroom participation; a requirement that virtual settings feature the same amount of teacher instruction time as classroom settings; minimum grading standards for classwork; teacher training in remote/distance learning; and in-person instruction for special needs students unless the school can demonstrate that their educational requirements can be met through distance learning.