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CARES Act Includes Funds for Distance & Online Learning

The recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a $13.5 billion Education Stabilization Fund to help school districts expand distance and online learning.

In addition, the Act permits the Secretary of Education to waive certain requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), primarily requirements related to educational accountability, if requested by a state educational agency (the Colorado Department of Education), and in more limited circumstances, by local educational agencies. While local educational agencies may request waivers of some requirements, CDE is authorized to request all eligible waivers. Therefore, at this point, local school districts should communicate with CDE regarding waivers that the state should pursue, and seek individual waivers only where CDE has chosen to not pursue an eligible waiver.

While eligible waivers are limited to the ESEA, the Act directs the Secretary to recommend to Congress no later than April 27, 2020, other statutory provisions, including provisions under the IDEA and Section 504, that the Secretary should be authorized to waive.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges in Colorado and across the country, and that includes for school districts. We are actively monitoring legislation, executive orders, and resources related to the pandemic so that we can help board members and educators navigate the rapidly changing landscape and transition to distance learning. If you are not already in touch with one of our attorneys and would like to reach us for guidance, email is the best way to contact us.

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