U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said Monday that Puerto Rico will receive nearly $4 billion in federal education aid funds to boost recovery from the pandemic.
The announcement was made during Cardona’s official three-day trip to Puerto Rico, the first by a Biden Cabinet member, the Associated Press reported.
It is the first time the island has had full access to such funds, the media explained.
“The students of Puerto Rico have suffered enough,” he said. “It’s time to get back to school safely and quickly.”
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the island’s spotty electricity service, teachers and students in Puerto Rico have faced a double-edged public crisis.
Some 24,000 students suspended classes this year, and 13,000 received an “F” in all their courses, prompting the island’s Department of Education to organize summer courses to help them with the aid of $210 million in previously approved federal funds, the AP continued.
The funds approved by the federal government, almost half of which will be released as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, will be administered by Pedro Pierluisi’s governorship.
Pierluisi said in a statement that the new funds would help repair school buildings, making necessary improvements to schools that suffered damage from earthquakes, Rolling Stone reported. Two billion dollars will come from the American Rescue Plan, $1.2 billion will come from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, and an additional $662 million will come from program grants.