Tennessee will receive $1.1 billion in new federal COVID-19 relief funding for K-12 education, the U.S. Department of Education announced.

Tennessee is one of 13 states to receive an allocation of more than $1 billion in new federal funding. The funds will be administered by the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE).

“This surge of funding will create huge opportunity for our districts and schools to not only respond to needs that have emerged as a result of the pandemic but also accelerate progress and outcomes for our students,” TDOE spokesperson Victoria Robinson told The Center Square in an email.

The $1.1 billion in new funding comes in addition to the $597 million awarded to Tennessee last year through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and is twice the amount Tennessee received for the Race to the Top literacy initiative, Robinson said.

The new funds are required to be used after the first round of K-12 pandemic relief is used up. In a letter to state education commissioners, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos urged states to use the funds immediately.

“I urge you to use the ESSER and ESSER II funding to safely re-open all elementary and secondary schools as soon as possible, to restore and maintain high-quality learning environments, and to take comprehensive action to mitigate the unprecedented learning loss that many of our most vulnerable students have endured,” DeVos wrote.

A total of $54 billion for K-12 school relief were allocated by Congress last month in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act – more than four times the amount allocated to K-12 education through the CARES Act.

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