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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Education on Monday approved a plan submitted by the state of Nevada to spend more than $1 billion in pandemic aid earmarked for K-12 schools.

The approved $1.1 billion plan outlines Nevada’s strategy to reopen all schools for in-person learning in the current school year, directing districts to use funds to close opportunity gaps for underserved students, expand access to technology, and enable distance learning. Funds will also be used on after-school programs, mental health services for students and making up for lost instructional time caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike other states, Nevada spent months collecting input on how to spend its pandemic relief funds. Local education agencies — school districts and the state public charter authority — had to submit spending plans by the end of last week.

The funding is a massive windfall for Nevada, which spends roughly $3.3 billion in state and local funds annually on K-12 education and has long ranked near the bottom of the United States in metrics like educational outcomes and per-pupil spending.

Since March 2020, the federal government has provided $190 billion in pandemic aid to schools, four times more than what the U.S. Department of Education spends on schools annually.

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