WHAT GEORGIANS ARE SEEING: U.S. Education Secretary Cardona Visits DeKalb County School, Small Business Owner Urges Need for Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, Biden-Harris Administration Ramps Up Fight Against COVID-19 in Georgia

July 26, 2021

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona traveled to DeKalb County and toured Kelley Lake Elementary School, a school that will utilize funds from the American Rescue Plan to improve their ventilation system before the new school year begins. Secretary Cardona was joined by Senator Jon Ossoff, Congresswoman Nikema Williams, and a group of parents for a roundtable discussing parents’ needs heading into the new school year and how federal relief funds will support classrooms as they adjust from the impacts of the past 16 months.

Also on Friday, the Biden-Harris administration announced additional assistance to fight COVID-19 in Georgia, particularly in rural areas. The administration is allocating $100 million for Georgia rural health clinics to pay for more vaccine education and outreach in communities that generally have seen the slowest vaccine uptake.

Yesterday, a small business owner from Atlanta penned a letter-to-the-editor in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution urging Congress to put aside partisan political games and pass President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure plan, writing “Congress must forget about political theatrics. Instead, think about the 1 million small businesses in Georgia and the millions more across the country that would benefit from the bipartisan infrastructure plan.”

Here’s what Georgians are seeing:


11Alive: US Education Secretary visits metro Atlanta school, touts success of American Rescue Plan

  • Georgia public schools received $4 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan to make improvements and implement measures to bring students and staff back inside the classroom for the upcoming school year. 
  • The DeKalb County School District received $300 million of that money, spending it on upgraded ventilation, improved roofing, and new water fountains among other items. 
  • “The Rescue Plan funds are aimed at making sure schools are open for students full time every day,” [Dr. Miguel] Cardona said. “I witnessed equity in action. We need examples like this to see how it is possible to improve air quality, improve the infrastructure of our schools. Our students deserve it. They’ve been waiting to come back.”

Georgia Recorder: COVID relief helps students, teachers get ready for school days back in class

  • Lawmakers are hoping teachers’ efforts will be bolstered by an infusion of federal cash from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
  • Georgia’s public schools have been awarded more than $4.2 billion from the federal aid plan. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education approved the state’s plan for the final round of $1.4 billion spending on Georgia schools.
  • “Whenever we had rain, we had all these trash cans lined up in the hallways,” said maintenance director Bobby Moncrief as he led Cardona through a classroom. “Now, since we’ve replaced the roof, we can actually use the trash cans for what they were designed for instead of just catching water.”
  • After the tour, Cardona told a group of parents gathered for a round table discussion that he was glad to see the pandemic aid used on projects intended to benefit student health


  • “It’s being used to improve the ventilation system, the airflow, so that the learning environment is safer and more comfortable for our students,” he said. “I love what I see here, I love the use of emergency funds to improve air quality. This is what we want to see nationwide, where there are concerns about ventilation. You did it right here.”
  • The Kelley Lake parents gathered at the meeting struck a positive tone about sending their kids back to school next week, thanks, they said, to the improved infrastructure as well as the safety measures imposed by the district. 

CW69: U.S. Secretary of Education Visits DeKalb Co. School To Discuss Ventilation, COVID Safety

  • U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona joined lawmakers and officials in DeKalb County for a roundtable discussion on Friday. He discussed how a school is using American Rescue Plan funds to improve air quality and addressed COVID safety concerns as students head back to classrooms.
  • Cardona toured Kelley Lake Elementary School to see firsthand how the school used the funds to improve its ventilation system. “The president’s been talking about it. This community acted on it to make sure that the school has a better ventilation system, better filters, better air quality,” he said, referring to the ventilation as an infrastructure improvement related to the Build Back Better agenda.

GPB: Education Secretary Highlights DeKalb School COVID-19 Prevention Efforts

  • Cardona visited Kelley Lake Elementary, highlighting the school’s efforts to improve its ventilation system as students prepare to return to the classroom. Funding for the upgrades came from the American Rescue Plan, which Congress passed in March
  • Georgia schools recently received the final $1.4 billion installment of the $4.2 billion in coronavirus relief funds. Cardona said he wants communities to continue engaging and investing in students long term.

AP: Education Dept OKs Georgia plan for relief funds

  • The U.S. Department of Education approved Georgia’s plans to use $1.4 billion in federal coronavirus relief money.
  • Federal officials already distributed two-thirds of the $4.2 billion that Georgia schools received under the American Rescue Plan, the relief bill backed by President Joe Biden. Most of the money is being directly allocated to Georgia’s 180-plus school districts, with $425 million held by the state Board of Education to address statewide needs.


Georgia Recorder: Biden boosts assistance to fight COVID-19 as delta variant surges

  • Amid a rise in infections and hospitalizations from the surging delta variant of COVID-19, the Biden administration is boosting money and other assistance to the hardest-hit areas of the country.
  • Federal public health officials on Thursday announced $1.6 billion in money from the pandemic relief package approved earlier this year will be used to increase testing and mitigation in high-risk group settings, like homeless shelters, substance abuse treatment centers and prisons.
  • Another $100 million will be sent to rural health clinics, to pay for more vaccine education and outreach in communities that generally have seen the slowest vaccine uptake.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Small businesses shouldn’t wait any longer for infrastructure reform

  • When I started my small martial arts business in Atlanta more than 13 years ago, I knew I wanted to create tomorrow’s leaders. I recognized that disinvestment in one area negatively impacts another, and unfortunately, that negative impact was often felt more in underserved communities. That’s why I’m urging Congress to stop the obstructive cycle of disinvestment in infrastructure and shore up the resources needed to withstand the next economic crisis.
  • Congress must forget about political theatrics. Instead, think about the 1 million small businesses in Georgia and the millions more across the country that would benefit from the bipartisan infrastructure plan. Instead of supporting infrastructure reform at the scale necessary to keep our small businesses afloat and compete on a level playing field, they have chosen to jockey for political supremacy.
  • Much-needed infrastructure reform is now facing an uncertain future, and we need our elected officials to put their differences aside and pass this legislation now.


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