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$1.7B COVID relief bill aids schools, tenants and others

The $1.7 billion COVID-19 relief bill Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law last week doles out more than $600 million in federal funding to aid the state’s COVID-19 response efforts, and it also provides money for schools, tenants and other entities.

The bill is separate from the stimulus package President Joe Biden rolled out recently.

“While I will ask legislators to revisit some areas of this legislation, including changes necessary to quickly deliver rental assistance, these funds will bring needed relief for people who are struggling, schools and small businesses as we strive to emerge from this pandemic,” Cooper said in a release.

Funding for the bill comes from the Consolidated Appropriations Act.

H.B. 196 provides $100 million for K-12 public school needs, as well as approximately $292 million for higher education relief. That includes $40 million allocated to public schools to “support in-person instruction programs to address learning loss and provide enrichment activities in the summer.”

The bill also includes $21 million allocated to the Department of Public Instruction to help provide community and mobile internet access points to be used by students learning remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other education-related allotments include $10 million to help school health support personnel provide physical and mental health support services in response to COVID-19, an additional $10 million to be allocated to public school units participating in a federal school nutrition program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and $9 million to improve the cybersecurity infrastructure of public schools,

The bill also provides $546 in emergency rental assistance funding to be administered by the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency. Beaufort County is set to receive a maximum allocation of $3,635,144 in rental assistance funding.

The North Carolina Housing Coalition criticized several parts of the housing provisions in H.B. 196, stating that certain provisions tied to the rental assistance funding would slow down the disbursement of that money.