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News Release

Office of Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9)

Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema called on the U.S. Departments of Interior and Education to distribute the already-approved $222 million CARES Act funding to support Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) Programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The federal government must immediately disburse critical resources to Tribal schools so students can safely learn and teachers can do their jobs during this global pandemic,” said Sinema.

Sinema’s letter urges immediate disbursement of funding from the Departments of Interior and Education intended for Bureau of Indian Education students. Additionally, Sinema asks the agencies to address how they have ensured equitable access to educational opportunities for Bureau of Indian Education students during school closures due to COVID-19.

The CARES Act became law two months ago. Specific Indian Education funding has not been allocated to any Bureau of Indian Education schools, meaning funding intended to assist students and teachers on reservations with distance learning for the past two months of the school year was not allocated.

If funding is not disbursed immediately, Bureau of Indian Education schools will not have time to prepare students with a safe and efficient learning environment for summer school and for the fall semesters.

In May, Sinema helped introduce the Emergency Educational Connections Act — legislation that provides $4 billion in federal support for tribal schools and libraries to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices (as well as internet service through such equipment) to students, staff, and patrons.