Package Includes $2.75 Billion for Jewish, Other Nonpublic Day Schools
Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union)—the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization—welcomed Congressional leaders’ agreement on a COVID-19 relief package that includes many important and critical measures such as substantial funds to support America’s K-12 schools including $2.75 billion to support Jewish, Catholic and other nonpublic day schools.
In the American Jewish community, there are almost 1,000 Jewish day schools educating approximately 300,000 students and employing many thousands of teachers and other staff. As with so many other institutions, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been terribly disruptive and costly to these schools. The Orthodox Union strongly advocated to Congress that a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package had to provide support to these nonpublic schools, among others, as a matter of practicality and equity. As a result, the programs in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March included significant support for nonpublic schools. But more support is needed in this ongoing crisis.
The new relief package Congress is expected to approve today includes many important provisions to address the current challenges, such as:
- a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans (which nonprofits can access);
- an extension of unemployment insurance support;
- greater funding for food assistance;
- more funds for vaccine distribution and COVID-19 testing.
The provision supporting nonpublic K-12 schools tracks what was proposed in the bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal put forward last week by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and others. It was incorporated into the final legislative package though the efforts and negotiations of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif).
Following Congress’s finalization of the relief package, Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament stated:
“As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has been terribly disruptive and costly to America’s K-12 schools—the students and families they serve, the teachers and many other staffers who work tirelessly to educate our children. That is why it is essential for this latest federal relief package to include a great amount of support for these schools and, among them, America’s Jewish, Catholic and other nonpublic schools.
“We are all in this together. We cannot beat back the pandemic, much less educate children, in some schools but not others. Thus, we are very thankful that Congressional leaders set aside $2.75 billion to help our schools in this emergency. We wish to particularly thank Senate leaders McConnell and Schumer as well as Sens. Collins, Manchin, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), House of Representatives leaders Pelosi and McCarthy as well as Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) for their efforts to have this critical support included in this much-needed relief package.”
Orthodox Union President Mark (“Moishe”) Bane stated:
“The Jewish community’s K-12 schools and yeshivos are working mightily to educate our children effectively and safely in the midst of this pandemic. Like K-12 schools across all American communities, this essential work—and the road to recovery from this crisis—are very costly. We are deeply grateful to the leaders and members of the U.S. Congress who have delivered this critical support to our schools and communities on an equitable and fair basis.”