Title I funds have been supporting low-income schools and students for decades. But do they still apply during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and if so, how can schools and districts use them in this new virtual learning environment?
COVID-19 and Title I Funds
As an educator or administrator, no doubt you’re asking if Title I funds are still available during the ongoing global health crisis, and if so, how you can use them to support your school community.
The answer is yes, these funds are still available – with a measure of expanded eligibility to accommodate the unprecedented challenges that school and district leaders are facing.
Let’s take look at some areas of need that Title I funds can support during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Online Learning for Students
Distance, online, remote – whichever term you prefer, it’s clear that digital learning is here to stay.
To support students during this time of heightened online-only instruction, the U.S. Department of Education has extended Title I funds to be used towards online learning for “all students in a schoolwide program and for identified, academically at-risk Title I students in a targeted assistance program.”
Student Devices and Connectivity
The COVID-19 crisis has revealed that 15-16 million (30%) of K-12 students in the U.S. do not have adequate Internet access at home, and 9 million of those students lack both Internet and devices altogether (Common Sense Media). 91% of these disconnected students are of minority populations.
In order for these students to have a chance at keeping up with their peers, especially during this period of distance and/or blended learning, they need access to devices such as personal Chromebooks as well as a reliable Internet connection.
Title I funds can be used to purchase digital devices and methods of Internet connectivity for students – such as filtered WiFi hotspots.
The U.S. Department of Education also released a statement in April 2020 stating that schools and districts may repurpose technology equipment that was purchased with federal funds – freeing up some funding that would have gone towards purchasing devices towards student connectivity solutions.
Teacher and Staff Training
A survey conducted by eSchoolNews in March 2020 revealed that 57% of teachers did not feel prepared for the shift to online instruction (eSchoolNews). The wave of school closures found many teachers scrambling to set up platforms like Zoom and WebEx, as well as Learning Management Systems like Blackboard, Schoology, and ClassDojo within a matter of days with little to no training.
Heading into the 2020-21 school year, carving out time and opportunities for teachers and staff to access training on digital tools will prove invaluable. Title I funds can be applied to online training materials that will equip your teaching staff for the challenges of delivering online instruction.
Family Support and Engagement Services
Title I funds have always been applicable to fund family support and engagement services. For students participating in virtual learning, many parents and guardians are now required to provide ongoing support throughout the school day. Resources that make it easier for family members to support their students, such as translated materials, adult literacy programs, and technology devices and support, may alleviate the pressure put on both families and educators as they navigate this new learning environment.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the possible applications for Title I funds, it should help get you started. We understand that supporting students is always a top priority, especially during these trying times.
Interested in learning more about how you can use available funding to connect disadvantaged students to safe, high-speed Internet for learning? Contact us here and a representative will be happy to explore the options with you.