SC Department of Education awards Aiken-area private schools COVID-19 funds

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Jun. 8—Several Aiken County private schools received over $1.6 million in emergency assistance from the South Carolina Department of Education.

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said in a news release Tuesday that the funding comes from the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) program as COVID-19 reimbursements to help safely reopen schools and cover pandemic-related costs.

Mead Hall Episcopal School in Aiken received the largest portion of funds with $530,875.97. St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic School in Aiken also received $515,531.28.

Our Lady of Peace Catholic School in North Augusta received $450,140.57, Town Creek Christian Academy in Aiken received $129,671.69, and Midland Valley Christian School in Graniteville received $110,665.13. Francis Hugh Wardlaw Academy in Johnston, which is in Edgefield County, received $56,651.91.

"Every South Carolina student and family has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic," Spearman said in a news release. "These funds were appropriated by Congress specifically to address the needs of our private and parochial schools who have faced similar challenges to our public education system."

Nationally, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act gave $2.75 billion towards the federal EANS program and part of McMaster's Emergency Education Fund.

"The South Carolina Department of Education was pleased to work with our non-public partners from around the state to ensure their needs were met so that they can provide a safe environment for students, educators and families," Spearman added.

Allocation was based on school-aged children between 5 and 17 or below 185% of poverty enrolled in public schools. Non-public schools had to submit an application to the state Department of Education for reimbursements related to the pandemic.

"We appreciate the attention and devoted work of the Department to facilitate the delivery of the EANS emergency funds to the non-public schools of our state," South Carolina Association of Christian Schools spokesperson Edward Earwood said.

South Carolina Independent School Association Executive Director Dr. Spencer Jordan agreed with Earwood.

"SCISA remains grateful for the efforts put forth by Congress, Gov. McMaster and Molly Spearman to ensure that all students and families of South Carolina receive this funding to promote academic growth," Jordan said. "Their willingness to support students in need, regardless of where they attend school, has been a great benefit to all South Carolinians."