May 04, 2020

Weekly Column: Greatness Of Educators Clear Amid COVID-19 Response

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

As schools closed nationwide to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, millions of school-aged children suddenly started being homeschooled.  Many parents are reeling trying to juggle at home work schedules while trying to keep on top of schooling needs.  For most, this abrupt shift has not been easy, and the tremendous importance of our educators is even more acutely clear.  All the while, teachers and administrators have been working hard to overcome the difficult circumstances, quickly disseminating learning materials and ensuring access to online education tools.  I commend our nation’s great educators for once again rising to the challenge to reach their students and the parents trying hard to fill these enormous shoes so the future of our great nation gets the educations they so greatly deserve. 

Teachers across Idaho have stepped up to make sure COVID-19 does not completely disrupt children’s education.  Schools have quickly adjusted to ensure ongoing education opportunities for students.  Educators have creatively adapted curriculum.  Teachers have sent personal videos reading to their students from afar and providing online lessons.  They continue to encourage, shape and resourcefully reach their students regardless of the circumstances.  Many schools also continue to offer pick-up lunches to students to ensure they have the nutrition they need to fuel their growing brains. 

My Mother was an English teacher, and one of my sisters also taught for many years.  I have seen firsthand, not only through their examples, but also through the many teachers I have had, known and met with over the years, how deeply they care for their students.  The devoted focus on students and excellence apparent in teachers radiates through our communities. 

Congress and the Administration have supported schools impacted by COVID-19 through enactment of multiple phases of legislation providing federal resources to back the continuity of educational efforts amid the COVID-19 crisis.  Among this assistance, in March, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed, and President Trump signed into law, Phase 3 of the emergency coronavirus response legislation, the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that establishes a more than $30 billion Education Stabilization Fund.  The fund includes a Governor's Emergency Relief Fund, an Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. 

The resources support flexible learning options, including remote education efforts, to address the needs of students and educators.  The law also provides flexibility in the application of education accountability laws to assist with the emergency shift in how students are educated.  Further, the law includes childcare, child nutrition and other education-related assistance.  Information about the implementation of the education provisions in the CARES Act is accessible on the U.S. Department of Education website, at www.ed.gov.

As implementation of the support already enacted into law continues and Congress and the Administration considers the need for additional resources, I will keep the needs of Idaho students at the forefront of discussions.  Thank you greatly to Idaho teachers and administrators for the outstanding work you continue to do to ensure sound educations for Idaho students no matter the circumstances.  You are truly making a difference.     

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