The New Jersey State Assembly on Monday passed bills to establish a technology grant program and to provide $20 million to assist schools in covering facility-sanitization costs made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both public and private schools are eligible for these funds, which were part of a package of 32 bills the Assembly passed Monday with overwhelming majorities in response to the pandemic.
Teach NJ, a project of the Orthodox Union that advocates for government funding for New Jersey private schools, and which has particularly lobbied recently for funding to help private schools manage pandemic-related costs, hailed the bills.
“We are pleased that Trenton has acted swiftly to ensure schools have the resources they need in order to manage an extreme and unplanned-for public health crisis and that nonpublic schools will have access to these critical resources,” said Teach NJ Executive Director, Katie Schlussel Katz. “Families throughout New Jersey are taking unprecedented steps to ensure their own health as well as that of their loved ones and fellow community members. It is important for communities to have peace of mind that their children can continue learning during this period and that facilities will be safe for all students, faculty and staff once schools re-open.”
The Bridging the Digital Divide Grant program will reimburse schools for the purchase of technological equipment including, laptops, tablets and hot-spot access devices for students who do not have the means to purchase these items. As schools close and classes shift to the internet, students may need internet-capable devices and access to continue their studies.
The New Jersey Department of Education will allocate the sanitization resources in proportion to the number of students enrolled at each school. The funds can be used to purchase necessary supplies and cover additional personnel costs associated with the cleaning schedule.
The bills now await passage in the Senate and Governor Murphy’s signature.