The Education Plus Up Grant program, funded through the American Rescue Plan, also requires that schools must follow all state laws.
“Parents have worked tirelessly over the past year and a half to keep their kids on track,” Ducey said in a release about the new grant program. “Parents are in the driver’s seat, and it’s their right to make decisions that best fit the needs of their children. Safety recommendations are welcomed and encouraged—mandates that place more stress on students and families aren’t.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman released a statement after the announcement calling it an "outrageous attack on public education."
"Today's announcements demonstrate a remarkable ability to ignore any lessons gained from a year and a half dealing with COVID-19," Hoffman wrote. "The goal is in-person learning—something that cannot be achieved by forcing sick students to go back to school with their healthy peers. As a reminder for Governor Doug Ducey, no student under the age of 12 is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine."
To be eligible, districts and charter schools must be open to in-person instruction and following all state law as of Aug. 27 and through the remainder of the school year.
The funding could be worth up to $1,800 in per pupil funding under the program’s terms and is meant to address discrepancies in the way additional pandemic funds from the federal government were distributed among schools.
The grants will provide supplemental dollars to schools that did not receive as much federal funding, according to the state.
“We’re making historic, targeted investments to ensure all students across Arizona have access to new opportunities, help adults student connect with jobs, strengthen literacy education in K-12 schools, enhance professional development for teachers and expand access to high-quality education,” Ducey said in the release.
As of Aug. 17, Chandler USD, Gilbert Public Schools and Higley USD have remained open to in-person instruction and do not have mask mandates.
In the wake of a court ruling Aug. 16 that state law prohibiting mask mandates in schools does not go into affect until Sept. 29, HUSD scheduled a special governing board meeting for 5 p.m. Aug. 18 to vote on whether to temporarily reinstate a face covering policy.
As of Aug. 17, CUSD had 140 active cases among its campuses’ populations; Gilbert Public Schools has 94 cases; and HUSD has 61.