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Ducey to use $850M in coronavirus relief bill funding for Arizona schools

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey announced Wednesday an allocation of $850 million in funding from the coronavirus relief bill for Arizona schools, a portion of which will aid schools during the upcoming year.

Ducey will use about $270 million of the funding to increase remote learning options, protect schools against budget shortfalls, increase broadband for students in rural communities and more.

The funding comes after Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman released guidelines June 1 on how to safely reopen schools during the pandemic.

“This plan provides schools with the flexibility to ensure Arizona students continue to receive a quality education ⁠— whether through distance learning or in the classroom, and provides parents with options that work best for their families,” Ducey said in a press release.

The funding gives clarity on how Arizona schools will pay for some of the suggestions in the reopening guidelines, such as increased remote learning options and physical distancing measures in classrooms.

Ducey also signed an executive order Wednesday that allows districts and charters without an approved Arizona Online Instruction certification to continue offering distance learning to students with no impact to their funding.

The executive order also exempts districts and charters from existing procurement rules for the purposes of obtaining PPE and any other coronavirus-related purchases.

Districts and charters will have to submit plans to the state’s education department in order to be eligible for those options.

The plan will also put $277 million in the Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief (ESEER) Fund and $304 million in the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

“While many unknowns remain, our school communities are resilient, and I know they will rise to meet this moment for public education,” Hoffman said in the release.

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