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As Governor Edwards mentioned in his press conference last night, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Louisiana is one of 11 states to receive new grant funding to help serve students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Louisiana has been awarded $17 million through the Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant. These funds will allow the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) to provide students access to remote learning resources, including devices and internet connectivity. The funding will support Louisiana families in meeting the educational needs of their children in grades pre-K through 3.

Families will be provided opportunities for high-quality remote supplemental learning resources, virtual tutoring and the devices/internet connectivity needed to access those services.

LDOE is committing 85 percent of these funds to students who are disadvantaged or attend a struggling school. The program aims to improve literacy rates for students in grades pre-K-3.

The LDOE will create an online portal for families to access supplemental resources and ensure that the portal includes multiple, high-quality, Louisiana-based providers with strong plans for partnering with families and LEAs. Louisiana will provide priority access to the online portal to the most disadvantaged students, including priority access to students and parents in struggling schools (as defined by ESSA).

COVID-19 is placing Louisiana public school students at extreme risk for learning loss. The Collaborative for Student Growth at NWEA warns of an impending "COVID Slide," in which students return to school this fall having retained only 70 percent of typical learning gains in reading and less than 50 percent of usual learning gains in math. In some grades, students may end up a full year behind.

Congress set aside 1 percent of the $30.75 billion allotted to the Education Stabilization Fund through the CARES Act for grants to states with the highest coronavirus burden. The Department of Education announced the Rethink K-12 Education Models (REM) grant competition in April 2020, inviting any state educational agency to apply. The program supports new, innovative ways to access education with an emphasis on meeting students' needs during the coronavirus national emergency. Applications were evaluated by a panel of independent peer reviewers, and the highest-scoring applications received funding.

Given the nature of the national emergency, states with the highest coronavirus burden were prioritized. Along with Louisiana, awardees include Georgia, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. The awards range from $6 million to $20 million.

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