On December 21, 2020, the Senate passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill. While the final COVID-19 relief package provides opportunities for out-of-school time (OST) programs similar to those outlined in the CARES Act, it falls short when it comes to meeting the growing needs of OST programs currently supervising students in-person who are taking virtual classes.
A detailed summary by the Afterschool Alliance of the parts of the bill relevant to OST programs is provided below. With regard to next steps, KYOSA will soon be asking local OST advocates to reach out to the Governor’s office and SEAs in mid to late January to make the case for allowing OST programs to access Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund dollars. Be on the lookout for an Action Alert soon.
Summary of the COVID-19 relief bill from the Afterschool Alliance:
The new COVID-19 relief language is largely similar to that of the CARES Act passed last March. While that approach will make it easier for the Department of Education and other agencies to distribute funds to states quickly, it unfortunately means legislators left out many of the improvements needed to make the CARES Act language more responsive to local needs. From an afterschool and summer learning perspective, the final COVID-19 relief package mirrors the opportunities in the CARES Act and does not includes 21st CCLC flexibility language. The new package includes the following:
- A total of $81.88 billion in education funds to be distributed in a similar manner as the CARES Act (the CARES Act provided a total of $30.75 billion for these funds) no later than 30 days following the enactment of the law, including:
- $54.3 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (up from $13.5 billion in the CARES Act)
- $4.05 billion for the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) (up from $3 billion in the CARES Act, but now including funds set-aside for private school emergency relief in the amount of $2.5 billion): Similar to the CARES Act, the GEER Fund is intended to provide support to any other institution of higher education, local educational agency, or education related entity within the State that the Governor deems essential for carrying out emergency educational services to students following allowable uses described in the bill; or in the Higher Education Act; and the provision of child care and early childhood education, social and emotional support; and the protection of education-related jobs.
- $22.7 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (up from $14.25 billion in the CARES Act)
- The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund: Allowable uses of funds include planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care. The education section starts on page 1,859 of the bill.
- There is a new allowable use section addressing learning loss among students, including low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care. The funds can be used to administer high-quality assessments; implement evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students; provide information and assistance to parents and families on how they can effectively support students, including in a distance learning environment; tracking student attendance and improving student engagement in distance education.
- This bill includes $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and extends PPP through March 31, 2021. Changes to PPP include:
- Provides a second PPP forgivable loan for the hardest-hit small businesses and nonprofits with 300 or fewer employees and that can demonstrate a loss of 25% of gross receipts in any quarter during 2020 when compared to the same quarter in 2019;
- Creates a dedicated $15 billion set-aside for lending through community financial institutions, including Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions to increase access for minority-owned and other underserved small businesses and nonprofits;
- Creates a set-aside for very small businesses with 10 or fewer employees and for small businesses located in distressed areas;
- Expands PPP eligibility for more critical access hospitals, local newspapers and TV and radio broadcasters, housing cooperatives, and 501(c)(6) nonprofits, including tourism promotion organizations and local chambers of commerce;
- Adds PPE expenses, costs associated with outdoor dining, and supplier costs as eligible and forgivable expenses; and
- Simplifies the forgiveness process for loans of $150,000 and less
- Direct assistance. $166 billion in direct checks: individuals making up to $75,000 a year will receive a payment of $600, while couples making up to $150,000 will receive $1,200, in addition to $600 per child. The deal also makes the stimulus checks more accessible to immigrant families.
- Child Care. This legislation provides $10 billion in emergency funds for child care providers through the Child Care and Developmental Block Grant (CCDGB) program. These grants are designed to provide immediate relief to child care providers who and are currently in operation or have been temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Providers will have flexibility in their use of funds, including personnel costs; sanitization and cleaning; personal protective equipment, fixed costs, rent, utilities, and other child care related services. This emergency relief will allow child care providers to remain open or reopen and assist essential workers and families who are in great need of this critical service. The child care language is very similar to that found in the CARES Act that passed last March and includes all licensed, regulated, and registered providers as eligible for funding, providers that were not receiving CCDBG assistance prior to the public health emergency. The child care section starts on page 1834 of the bill. The legislation also includes $250 million for Head Start providers to ensure they are able to continue to safely serve low-income children and families throughout the pandemic.
- $7 billion for broadband. This legislation includes $3.2 billion in emergency funds for low-income families to access broadband through an FCC fund. Additionally, there is a new $1 billion tribal broadband fund. Included is $250 million dollars in telehealth funding and $65 million to complete the broadband maps in order for the government to effectively disperse funding to the areas that need it most.
- Coronavirus Relief Fund Extension. The bill extends the availability by one year (until Dec. 31, 2021) for funds provided to states and localities by the Coronavirus Relief Fund in the CARES Act. State and local governments have used these funds for school-age child care in some instances.
- Provides increased funding for school and child care meal programs. The bill also improves the Pandemic-EBT program, which provides additional nutrition benefits for families with children who are eligible for free school lunches to help cover the cost of meals children would have otherwise received at school. The bill also provides emergency funding to support the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) child care providers and sponsors services and the School Nutrition Programs by replacing 55 percent of the total reimbursement funding lost for each claiming month from April 2020 to June 2020 plus half of March 2020.
- Extension of Paid Leave Credits: The bill extends the refundable payroll tax credits for paid sick and family leave that were established in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, through March 31, 2021. The bill also allows self-employed individuals to use their average daily self-employment income from 2019, rather than 2020, for purposes of computing these credits.
- Extension of Charitable Giving Incentives: The bill includes a one-year extension of the $300 above-the-line-deduction, which was established in the CARES Act and set to expire the end of this year. It also increases the amount for 2021 that married couples filing jointly can deduct for charitable contributions, from $300 to $600. This will continue to incentivize individuals who do not itemize to support charitable organizations during this crisis. Additionally, the bill extends through the end of 2021 the increased limits on deductible charitable contributions for companies and taxpayers who itemize.