Bessemer City School district reflects on $900-million Alabama public schools are awarded in COVID-19 relief funding

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BESSEMER, Ala. (WIAT) — More than $54 billion will be awarded to public schools nationwide to help districts through the 2021 COVID-19 relief bill. In Alabama, schools will receive $900 million which will be distributed across the state.

Bessemer City Schools, like so many other districts statewide, have dealt with many challenges as they’ve worked to keep students and staff safe amid the coronavirus pandemic. Teacher, Lamonica Irby, says the district faced additional struggles with students forced to work remotely at the end of last Spring and some last Fall as well as many openings and closings from COVID-19.

“Parents oftentimes had to work, so that left the kids at home with little to no assistance and lack of technology as well as lack of digital literacy on the kids part,” Irby said.

Irby says due to these circumstances, resources teachers can provide with additional COVID-19 relief funding this year is much needed for students especially with student performance impacted by the pandemic.

“Summer programs, after school, before school tutoring and one of the things I would like to see hopefully is districts maybe get interventionists to come into work with those struggling kids to help get them to where they need to be,” Irby said.

Superintendent Dr. Autumm Jeter says with additional COVID-19 relief funding, the district may look at creating academic intervention resources and launching capital improvement projects.

“We can now possibly get the resources to have virus killers in the HVAC systems that kill the air not just here right now in Covid which we do need it for, but in the future for cold and flu viruses,” Jeter said.

Jeter adds, she and many in academia are thankful the federal government is investing in school systems nationwide helping provide financial relief to them as they work to provide support to their students. 

“It really shows they understand, they care, they know that needs are out there.” “we have that we can’t do on our own through local funds or our traditional funding, so we are very appreciative and grateful,” Jeter said.  

Dr. Jeter says the $900 million awarded to Alabama public schools is a step in the right direction for addressing needs in 2021. But she adds education leaders must continue to have conversations looking at long-term sustainability to keep up purchases made during the pandemic.


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