Idaho parents could be eligible for government awards to pay for education materials for their kids as part of the “Strong Families, Strong Students” initiative through the state.
The new $50 million initiative goes live Wednesday, according to a news release from the Idaho Governor’s Office. The funds will go toward supporting the needs of families and students.
Parents can apply for benefits totaling $1,500 per eligible student and a maximum award of $3,500 per family. Funds can be spent on eligible educational materials, devices and services, according to the governor’s office.
The initiative is aimed at easing parents’ burdens with students being in classes remotely, and keeping parents in the workforce rather than expending a family’s resources so students get the education they need.
“When parents have to step in to provide instruction and equipment due to school-related closures, we see them pushed out of the work force – something that strains our economic rebound,” Idaho Gov. Brad Little said in a news release.
Parents can start applying for the government awards on Wednesday through Dec. 8.
More information can be found at www.strongfamilies.idaho.gov on Wednesday.
The Idaho State Board of Education approved the contract Monday with a third-party vendor to facilitate the program and distribute funds. According to The Associated Press, that third-party vendor is Florida-based company ClassWallet, and the state education board awarded a no-bid contract to the company. The deal will cost the state roughly $2 million in fees that will be paid to ClassWallet.
The Associated Press also reported that ClassWallet is represented by the lobbying firm Strategos Group, where Idaho Republican Party chairman Tom Luna is a partner. Luna served as the state’s school superintendent from 2006-2014.
Marissa Morrison, a spokesperson for Little’s office, told The Associated Press that ClassWallet runs similar programs in other states — such as Arizona, Oklahoma and Tennessee — which is why the state awarded the contract to the company. She said Luna’s affiliation with the company had no bearing on the state’s selection of ClassWallet to facilitate the program.
HOTLINE CREATED FOR TEACHERS TO REPORT CORONAVIRUS ACTIVITIES
Idaho teachers can now anonymously report activities that put students and other teachers at risk during the coronavirus outbreak.
The hotline, established by the Idaho Education Association, will allow educators to leave tips about people not properly distancing; violating mask mandates; schools lacking cleaning supplies; COVID-19 positive students and staff; as well other issues surrounding schools and the coronavirus.
“Since school buildings reopened, we have heard reports from educators in many areas of the state about breakdowns in safety protocols and COVID-19 transparency,” IEA President Layne McInelly in a news release.
Teachers can send tips to the hotline via phone and online form. That information has been shared among the IEA’s membership. Once the organization collects the concerns and data shared to the IEA, the group will release the findings to education officials.
“We hope this hotline will help create an environment for informed decision-making that will protect Idaho students and educators,” McInelly said.
IDAHO REPORTS OVER 750 NEW CASES OF CORONAVIRUS ON MONDAY
Idaho’s moving average for new coronavirus cases jumped yet again Monday, as the state’s seven-day moving average for new confirmed and probable cases grew to 722 per day as of Monday.
That number grew as a result of the 651 new confirmed and 103 new probable coronavirus cases reported Monday, adding 754 cases to the state’s totals. Idaho health officials also reported three new deaths and a record number of people hospitalized in intensive care units.
Two Bannock County residents — a woman in her 80s and a man in his 70s — and a Bingham County woman in her 60s are the latest fatalities linked to the coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease. As of Monday, 535 Idahoans have died from the coronavirus.
State health officials updated hospitalization numbers Friday, showing a record-high number of people in ICUs — 61 — with the coronavirus. That number was 59 patients the day prior. The most recent numbers show 54 people were hospitalized in ICUs on Saturday.
New COVID-19 cases continue to stack up around the state, especially in Eastern Idaho. Of all Idaho counties reporting new coronavirus cases Monday, none reported more than Madison County’s 98 new cases. The county now has 1,826 reported coronavirus cases.
Ada County reported 71 new coronavirus cases on Monday, and its total is now 13,579 overall cases. Canyon County reported 59 new cases, and as of Monday it has 8,619 cases of COVID-19.
Numerous Idaho counties reported double-digit new cases on Monday, including Bannock (44 new), Bingham (27), Bonneville (54), Cassia (23), Gooding (11), Jefferson (10), Jerome (13), Kootenai (30), Latah (18), Lemhi (14), Minidoka (19) and Twin Falls (63).
As of Monday, Idaho has 47,934 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, along with 6,020 probable cases. Of those confirmed to have the virus, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports 26,238 people have recovered from the virus.
The department also reports that 355,382 people have been tested for the virus in Idaho, with roughly 13.5% of tests returning positive.
All counties except Adams have reported cases of community spread.
All of Idaho’s 44 counties have reported cases of the coronavirus: Ada 13,579, Adams 30, Bannock 1,501, Bear Lake 58, Benewah 162, Bingham 1,161, Blaine 773, Boise 60, Bonner 397, Bonneville 3,165, Boundary 58, Butte 70, Camas 32, Canyon 8,619, Caribou 171, Cassia 1,078, Clark 33, Clearwater 107, Custer 83, Elmore 339, Franklin 253, Fremont 330, Gem 339, Gooding 369, Idaho 279, Jefferson 709, Jerome 851, Kootenai 3,272, Latah 800, Lemhi 159, Lewis 69, Lincoln 111, Madison 1,826, Minidoka 985, Nez Perce 582, Oneida 36, Owyhee 333, Payette 933, Power 295, Shoshone 233, Teton 234, Twin Falls 2,970, Valley 99, Washington 391.