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State Spotlight: Virginia’s CARES Plan Invests in Students’ Academic and Emotional Needs

• ExcelinEd

Virginia is using its CARES Act funds to address instructional loss, prepare educators for virtual instruction and support students’ social and emotional needs.


In March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help states address the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bulk of the education funds flow directly to K-12 local education agencies and institutions of higher education. However, each state governor and state education agency has the flexibility to direct funds to prioritized programs and needs within federal guidelines.

Virginia’s allocations of these flexible CARES funds include:

  • $66,775,322 for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund
  • $23,859,919 from the K-12 stabilization fund (10% of the full amount of $238,599,192 earmarked for K-12)

Highlights from Virginia’s Plan

Earlier this month, Governor Ralph Northam and the Virginia Department of Education released their plans for leveraging the CARES Act and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund.

In addition to $27 million for devices and internet to bridge the digital divide and $10 million towards early childhood education, the Commonwealth’s plan outlines several further initiatives aimed at education support and recovery, including:

Expand Virtual Learning

Virginia is investing more than $5.5 million to provide quality remote instruction for all students during the phased reopening of schools. The state is expanding the Virtual Virginia online learning program to allow teachers across the state to create and share content, as well as provide professional development to ensure educators have the capacity and skills to meet the demand for quality online learning. With additional investments from the CARES Act, Virginia is also expanding instructional content in GoOpenVA, which allows students and families to access open education resources.

Slow the Summer and COVID Slide

The months of school closures will compound the anticipated summer learning loss. To address this, Virginia is investing $5 million in summer academies to make up for lost instruction and help students transition to the upcoming school year. Funds will support remote and phased in-person instruction, including early childhood services to prepare students for kindergarten.

Identify Learning Gaps in the Fall

The unprecedented disruption to student learning will likely have long-term implications. To identify knowledge gaps and instructional needs, Virginia is investing $917,000 to support locally delivered diagnostic assessments in the fall to provide all teachers with actionable information about student performance in core subject areas.

Support Students’ Social and Emotional Needs

With additional investments from the CARES Act, the Commonwealth is prioritizing $750,000 to support a state-coordinated, evidence-based assessment of student social-emotional learning. Screenings will take place upon reopening of schools to assess student needs and support transition back to school.

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