Biden counters DeSantis penalties for Alachua

Today, the U.S. Department of Education awarded the School Board of Alachua County $147,719 in funding under the new Project to Support America’s Families and Educators (Project SAFE) grant program.

This is the first award under Project SAFE, and funding will support the Florida school district’s efforts to protect students as they return to safe, in-person learning despite the state’s actions to prohibit implementation of strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19 consistent with science-based guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Project SAFE program was announced as part of President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan to combat COVID-19 and safely reopen schools for in-person learning. As part of the program, school districts have been able to apply to the Department of Education to restore funding withheld by state leaders—such as salaries for school board members or superintendents who have had their pay cut—when a school district implemented strategies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

“We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them. We stand with the dedicated educators in Alachua and across the country doing the right thing to protect their school communities, and with today’s first-ever award under Project SAFE, we are further enabling educators to continue that critical work,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

“With these grants, we’re making sure schools and communities across the country that are committed to safely returning to in-person learning know that we have their backs. I commend Alachua for protecting its students and educators, and I look forward to working with them to provide students their best year yet. Every student across the country deserves the opportunity to return to school in-person safely this fall, and every family should be confident that their school is implementing policies that keep their children safe.”

The Project SAFE program promotes student safety and well-being by providing funding to school districts that were financially penalized by an entity in their state for implementing the CDC’s science-based strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The funding will help districts keep these measures in place and maintain district and school stability despite the financial penalty.