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U.S. Secretary of Education Cardona to visit SC HBCU next week

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U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will visit South Carolina for the first time, stopping at a historically black college. There, he hears first-hand from students about how the pandemic has disrupted their lives and studies in the days before the new school year begins.

On the Aug. 15 trip, Cardona traveled to Orangeburg, where he visited SC State University with House Majority Jim Cliburn, a school alumnus and highest-ranking black member of Congress. To do.

The trip was first announced by South Carolina State University and later confirmed by Cliburn’s office. In addition to student roundtables and campus tours, Cardona visits also include meetings with leaders from South Carolina’s historically black colleges.

The trip aims to show how funding from President Joe Biden’s Relief America Plan continues to help HBCUs like South Carolina recover from the multiple effects of the pandemic. is.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on HBCUs and other institutions serving minorities across the country. Not only do HBCUs operate with fewer resources than most other institutions of higher learning, but the African-American they serve puts him at increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

Congress responded by throwing nearly $5 billion in lifelines at these schools under the American Rescue Plan, which funded eight HBCUs in South Carolina with about $112 million. South Carolina State University and Clinton College were awarded another $5 million last month.

The final round of grants will go to public and private nonprofits with the greatest unmet need, such as community colleges and local institutions that serve a high percentage of diverse student populations and low-income students, according to the department. was awarded to the university of Among other categories, those who have experienced a decline in enrollment since the start of the pandemic. “

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In a statement at the time, Cardona said, “Institutions that serve our most needy students have not only been hit hard by the pandemic, but are often chronically underinvested and underfunded. They also suffer from equality.

Most of the institutions that received these federal dollars spent about half of all grants in the most needy need to provide additional support for housing, tuition support, food insecurity, and other basic needs. They are also required to distribute it directly to their students.

“By investing in stronger student support, we remove barriers to student success, helping them stay on track, earn a degree, and ultimately build a rewarding career.” ‘ said Cardona.

Monday’s visit will be Cardona’s first official visit to Palmetto province since Senate approval in March 2021.

In August 2021, Cardona wrote to South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and State Superintendent Molly Spearman that state proviso banning mandatory mask-wearing in schools puts students back in the classroom at risk. and may violate federal law. The U.S. Department of Education has since launched civil rights investigations in South Carolina and her four other states over the issue of mask bans in public schools.

After a series of court challenges, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied McMaster’s request to overturn an earlier court order that prevented state officials and certain school districts from enforcing the General Assembly’s school mask ban. did.

A former public school teacher, Cardona became Connecticut’s head of education before Biden named him head of the U.S. Department of Education. Both South Carolina Republican senators voted against Cardona’s approval.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 8:0043-998-5404 Follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.