Mississippi’s school districts are facing unprecedented decisions about how and when to reopen this fall. They’re also facing decisions on how to spend an unprecedented amount of federal money designated specifically to help schools with pandemic relief efforts.

This spring, Mississippi received over a billion dollars through the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to provide states with money to address the pandemic. The CARES Act contains $30.75 billion specifically designated to states for education.

That money is separated into different pots for the governor, higher education and K-12 each to address the impact of COVID-19. To learn more about how much the governor’s office and Mississippi colleges and universities received, click here.

The K-12 monies come from a category called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Mississippi’s portion of this money comes out to $169,883,002, which the Mississippi Department of Education subgrants directly to school districts, including charter schools. Each district receives money based on Title I funding, which are federal dollars given to schools with a high number of low-income students enrolled.

Local school districts must spend this money by September 2022, according to the federal government. The U.S. Department of Education gives schools a lot of flexibility on how to spend these funds, but recommends it go towards “activities that will
support remote learning for all students, especially disadvantaged or at-risk students, and their teachers.”

The funding can also be used to purchase personal protective equipment, cleaning materials and other supplies necessary for schools during and after the pandemic. School districts are also expected to contribute some of their funds to the digital learning plan the Mississippi Legislature is working on with the the Mississippi Department of Education.

View your school district’s CARES allocation below:

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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.