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School districts that have had funds withheld by their state or are otherwise financially penalized for implementing COVID-19 safety measures will soon be able to receive funding from a new grant program.

The U.S. Department of Education announced it will launch the new grant program, Project SAFE, as a part of President Biden’s plan to combat COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of students, educators, families, and school communities.

Project SAFE, (Supporting America’s Families and Educators), anticipates using funding within the Department of Education from Title IV, Part F, School Safety National Activities, of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, local school districts would apply for Project SAFE grants that will allow them to restore funding withheld by state leaders after putting measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Grant awards will be made directly from the Department to local education agencies.

“Every student across the country deserves the opportunity to return to school in-person safely this fall, and every family should be confident that their school is implementing policies that keep their children safe,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them. We stand with the dedicated educators doing the right thing to protect their school communities, and this program will allow them to continue that critical work of keeping students safe.”

A notice inviting applications for school districts to apply for the Project SAFE grant is planned to be released in the coming weeks.

Plans to make grant awards as expeditiously as possible and on an ongoing basis are to come soon as well.

“In addition to the new grant program administered by the Department of Education, President Biden’s plan includes actions to ensure schools can remain open for in-person learning and maintain the health and safety of students, staff, and families,” the Department’s release says. “This includes calling on all states to adopt vaccine mandates for all school employees, encouraging schools to use American Rescue Plan and other federal funds to regularly test students and school staff for COVID-19, and using the Department of Education’s full legal authority to protect students’ access to in-person instruction. As part of the American Rescue Plan, states and school districts were provided $122 billion in funds aimed at supporting the safe and sustained reopening of schools across the country.”