Guilford County government got a $93.7 million federal grant earlier this year to address COVID-19 fallout and to battle the spread of the disease, and now the Guilford County Board of Education has plans for $10 million of that total.

At the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Thursday, August 6 meeting, the commissioners will entertain a request from the school board to use the $10 million to purchase computers and tablets for the school system in order to teach students online.

As in many other parts in the country, the coronavirus pandemic has made “distance learning” more important than ever for schools – and it looks like that will be a major concern for at least months to come. Given that, in July, the school board passed a resolution making the request of the county.  

Each year, Guilford County spends nearly half of its budget for school funding, school capital expenses and to pay down school bond debt. However, six months ago no one anticipated that another huge and new cost would have to be borne by the schools – providing an education to kids in a new, remote and virus-safe way.

There are about 73,000 students in the Guilford County school system – which will largely rely on online instruction in the coming months – and, according to school officials, a significant number of those students, as well as some teachers, aren’t equipped to learn or teach from their homes.

The commissioners do have the money on hand. The federal government has already given the nearly $94 million to the county, which has used over $7 million to help out area small businesses. The money is also being used for things like disinfecting public buildings and buying glass shields to keep county workers safe when they interact with the public.