The Greencastle-Antrim School District will use federal CARES Act funding to continue its Equal Technology Opportunities initiative at the middle school level.

Last week the school board approved the use of $178,000 in coronavirus-related grant funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to lease 830 iPads for middle school students and teachers. The grant covers the first two years of the $348,174.55 lease, with the district responsible for $56,274.85 annually for the next three years.

The rest of the $236,000 grant is being used for back-to-school expenses associated with COVID-19, including masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning.

The ETO initiative put iPads in the hands of high school students in January. Because all students and teachers had the same technology, high school students were able to resume their regular studies online April 6, less than a month after schools were closed due to COVID-19. Students in lower grades could only be given guidance in some subject areas because they did not all have the same access to technology.

Under the ETO timeline, middle school students were supposed to get iPads this fall, but money was not included in the 2020-21 budget.

"This is a great opportunity to use this grant money for a long-term goal," said school board member Mark Chimel.

The iPads should arrive by the start of school. Dwight Bard, director of technology, said he will work with teachers and staff on the schedule for deployment.

"With remote learning, I think this is a necessity," said board member Shannon Yates.

The first day of school in the district is Monday, Aug. 24. High school students will attend school in person two days a week — either Mondays and Tuesdays or Thursdays and Fridays — with classes online three days a week.

Middle, elementary and primary school students will attend school four days a week — Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, with virtual instruction on Wednesdays.