State Receives $5M to Expand School Nursing Services

Cindy Morley

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

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More than $5 million in federal aid will go to schools across the state to help Georgia expand nursing services. The funds from the CARES Act will be provided to every school district and GNETS (Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support) facility in the state and can be used to fund additional school nursing personnel, supplies, telehealth services, and similar needs.  

“We know that school nurses play a critical role in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in schools – and in ensuring students’ health and well-being at all times,” said Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods. “Unfortunately, we also know that funding for school nursing services can be limited. These funds will help school districts expand school nursing staffing or resources for the benefit of all students.  

According to the Superintendent’s office, funds were allocated to each school district based on the state funding formula for school nurses, with a $15,000 minimum allocation applied. This allows small or rural school districts to receive an adequate amount of base funding. 

The funds provided for school nursing services are the remainder of the state reserve portion of CARES 1 funds — one of three allocations of federal relief funds during the COVID-19 pandemic – CARES 1, CARES 2, and American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. Georgia public schools will receive more than $3.8 billion under the ARP Act. The State Board of Education recently approved a recommendation by Superintendent Woods to begin allocating the funds to districts. 

The federal legislation requires that school districts set aside at least 20 percent of the funds they receive to address student learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The remaining funds are flexible and can be used to support at-risk student populations, distance or remote learning, school meals, mental and physical health, supplemental learning and addressing learning loss, facilities and equipment, continuity of core staff and services, and more. 

Like CARES 2 funds, these funds do not have an equitable services provision requiring districts to make funding available to private/independent schools within their geographic area. Instead, Congress provided a separate allocation for private/independent schools, called the Emergency Assistance for Non-public Schools (EANS). 

The funds are allocated based on a district’s proportionate share of Title I funding – for example, if a school district received 2 percent of Georgia’s overall share of Title I funding in Fiscal Year 2021, they will receive 2 percent of the ARP allocation. This funding formula is required by federal law and the Georgia Department of Education does not have the authority to use a different method.