Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, schools all over the country have faced a variety of challenges in the end of the previous academic year that are carrying over into the new year. This negatively impacted many students, especially those with special needs. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf acknowledged this problem and pledged to dedicate approximately $20 million to help 678 local education agencies in providing education services for students with disabilities. This will be known as the Special Education COVID-19 Mitigation Grant (SECIM).
The funding in this plan includes $15 million from Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) and $5 million from the Department of Education’s (PDE) federal funding through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Early into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was created to provide many people with assistance during this time. The CARES Act authorized governors to determine the educational use of GEER Funds.
Speaking on the matter, Governor Wolf stated, “While COVID-19 impacted all students this year, it was particularly hard on our children with special needs, who often require additional support and services to assist their learning. This funding will help schools as they put structures in place to help these students while we work to mitigate the spread of this pandemic.”
The Special Education COVID-19 Impact Mitigation Grant will provide financial support to local agencies in order to:
- Provide enhanced synchronous (real-time) instruction to bolster remote services and supports for students with complex needs
- Provide services and supports to students with disabilities who experienced a loss in skills and behavior and/or a lack of progress due to the mandatory school closures
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