Tester Secures More Than $41 Million for Montana Schools Closed During COVID-19 Pandemic

Senator fought to include funding in CARES Act for Montana K-12 schools impacted by crisis

As Montana classrooms stay shuttered to students due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced that the state will receive $41,295,230 to help K-12 schools meet the needs of students as they continue to rely on online learning to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Tester successfully pushed to include this funding in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s original version of the bill provided zero funding for K-12 schools.

“Montana families rely on public schools to provide their kids with a quality education, but the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into our education system,” said Tester. “Students and educators alike are finding it difficult to transition online, and limited broadband in our frontier communities makes it nearly impossible for many of our kids to access learning. This funding can help our schools find creative solutions to these issues and ensure that the next generation gets the education they deserve, even if they aren’t in a classroom.”

This funding was allocated by the Department of Education and can be used by state and local education agencies to invest in innovative ways to educate K-12 students outside of the classroom as well as to promote health and safety, particularly through technology, distance learning resources, training, and long-term planning. States must distribute 90 percent of the funding to local education agencies and may retain up to 10 percent for their coronavirus responses.

As a former teacher and school board member, Tester has been fighting tooth and nail to ensure Montana schools and students have the resources they need to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, he announced that the Montana Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund would receive more than $8.7 million in funding to bolster education in the state. He also secured $32 million in relief for more than 25 Montana colleges and universities earlier this month, and worked to ensure that those seeking public student loan forgiveness are not penalized if they miss a payment during the global health crisis.

After 72 hours negotiating substantial, bipartisan improvements to COVID-19 stimulus legislation that had previously fallen far short for Montana, Tester voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana workers, families, small businesses, hospitals and others hardest hit by the outbreak. This funding included $1.25 billion for the state of Montana, which was delivered to the state earlier this week.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak