File-Ohio Schools COVID-19

Custodian Patti Alesci cleans desks at Orange High School on Monday, March 16, 2020, in Pepper Pike, Ohio.

(The Center Square) – Schools, bars, restaurants and hotels are among the businesses and entities across Ohio that could share in more than $2 billion in additional federal COVID-19 relief if a series of bills that passed the Ohio House also passes the Senate and is signed by Gov. Mike DeWine.

The bulk of the funding would go to schools, which would share $857 million spread out between public, private, service centers and vocational schools. The funding also includes money for the state’s county boards for developmental disabilities, COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution and for the National Guard’s response.

Schools were the key, however.

“Ohio’s schools have been struggling throughout the coronavirus pandemic and House Bill 170 works to ensure they have the funds necessary to get back on their feet and create the best environment possible for our students,” Rep. Adam Bird, R-New Richmond, said.

The state’s public schools would receive $683 million, while $154.8 million would go to private schools.

A package of three other bills included more help for the state’s bar, restaurant and hospitality industries hit hard by stay-at-home orders, curfews and capacity limits for more than a year.

Bars and restaurants are expected to get $100 million in grants, and the lodging industry would have the opportunity at $25 million.

Another $150 million would go into the small business grant relief program, and $10 million would go to new businesses. Ohio fairs, veterans homes and child care services would be in line for $120 million, and entertainment venues could share $20 million for loss of revenue because of cancelled events or performances.

“Since the businesses were unable to operate most of the year 2020 due to a pandemic that included government intervention into their day-to-day operations, it was only fair that these businesses receive funding to get back on their feet,” Rep. D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron, said.

Other than schools, the area to receive the most funding would be rental and utility assistance, with $465 million set aside to help landlords, renters and others impacted during the pandemic.

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.