Liability and Legislative Committee Meetings, Federal Programs Updates – EIDL & Main Street Lending Program, AccelerateED Release Final Draft Recommendations

Email to COVID-19 Mailing List: June 16th

Today’s COVID-19 business information compiled by your SC Chamber Team includes: Liability and Legislative Committee Meetings, Federal Programs Updates – EIDL & Main Street Lending Program, AccelerateED Release Final Draft Recommendations

ICYMI: Commercial Real Estate Market Update Webinar TOMORROW at 5:00 pm

Join us for a snapshot of the state of commercial real estate in SC. SC-based real estate leaders will give updates on current trends in the Upstate, Midlands, and Lowcountry markets. SC Chamber President and CEO Ted Pitts will moderate. Other speakers are David Lockwood with Colliers International, Steve Smith with CBRE, and Peter Fennelly with Bridge Commercial. Register in advance.

1. Liability and Legislative Committee Meetings

House and Senate Liability Committees:  Today, the House COVID-19 Liability Protection Review Committee and the Senate Business Liability Subcommittee of Reopen SC Select Committee discussed draft legislation that would protect employers from liability as the state continues to reopen the economy.  Neither committee adopted legislation but agreed to continue to work toward finalizing bills before the General Assembly returns next week.

Senate Finance Committee: Today, the Senate Finance Committee approved a plan (H.5202) to authorize approximately $1.2 billion of the $1.9 billion of the Coronavirus Aid, Response, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for SC. The committee heard from the Executive Budget Office that the state had retained the services of Guidehouse to manage the grants associated with the CARES Act money.

The committee approved authorizations for the following SC Chamber priorities:

  • $50 million for broadband expansion
  • $500 million for the Unemployment Trust Fund
  • $210 million for K-12 education including
    • $50.7 million for summer learning camps
    • $160 million for bringing students back to school five days earlier than previously planned.
  • $82.2 million for higher education

These authorization amounts represent the maximum amount given to an agency or office. All agencies or governmental offices seeking funds must apply for them through the grant administrator, Guidehouse, who will review the application and then determine if the request meets the qualifications for CARES Act money as dictated by the Federal Government.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor, where they expect to take a vote next Tuesday, June 23rd, when they return to session. If approved by the Senate, the bill will go to the House floor for a concurrence vote.

2. Federal Programs Updates – EIDL & Main Street Lending Program

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Advanced Loan Program Fully Reopened

  • Yesterday the Small Business Administration (SBA) released a statement announcing that the EIDL Loan and EIDL Advanced Loan program reopened for all qualifying small businesses and non-profits.
  • The SBA stopped accepting new applications on April 15th; on May 1st, the portal was partially reopened, but only for the agribusiness industry.
  • An EIDL Loan can be used to cover some business costs not already covered by a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.
  • The loan comes with a 3.75% interest rate for businesses and 2.75% for non-profits. Additionally, unlike PPP loans, non-profits organized as a 501(c)6 qualify for EIDL loans.
  • Loan repayment terms may be up to 30 years, and the first payment deferred for up to one year.
  • The EIDL Advance Program allows a business or non-profit to receive a $10,000 cash advance that does not have to be paid back, even if a business or non-profit’s loan is denied.

Main Street Lending Program Lender Portal Now Open

  • Yesterday the US Department of Treasury (Treasury) announced that the Main Street Lending Program Lending Portal is now open. Lenders interested in this program can learn more and apply here.
  • The Main Street Lending Program provides loan options for businesses that were not able to receive PPP loans or need more capital than PPP loan offers. Unlike PPP loans, a Main Street loan will not be forgivable.
  • Find a list of FAQs regarding the Main Street Loan Program here.

3. AccelerateED Release Final Draft Recommendations

Yesterday, the AccelerateED Task Force released its final draft of recommendations and guidance for the reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The plan divides the reopening into four phases:

  • Phase 1: Immediate Actions. The report states that the early summer (June and early July) should establish the framework and processes necessary for the resumption of school in the fall. These include the state creation of Health and Safety Infrastructure Grants (for the restructuring of physical spaces) and the purchase of more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It also recommends that the districts each create a “reopening team or task force” and Mental Health Crisis Response Teams.
  • Phase 2: Summer Planning and Preparation. The report states that the month of July after the July 4th holiday time should be spent adjusting traditional planning routines for the opening of the school year.
    • Recommendations include: removing earnings caps for retired educators, addressing shortages of student services providers, review of emergency drill procedures, the development of distance learning resources, a thorough examination of the school calendar, making sure every school has a full-time equivalent nurse, developing cleaning protocols, and reconfiguring classrooms and other spaces to create more distance between students.  
  • Phase 3: Pre-Opening. The report states that the Pre-Opening Phase includes the two weeks before the scheduled start of the school year and should be spent focusing on efforts to prepare students for the upcoming school year. The State Department of Education (SDE) has recommended adding five additional “LEAP” (Learn, Evaluate, Analyze, Prepare) days at the start of the 2020-21 school year for students in grades 4K-8. These extra days are subject to the legislature approving CARES Act funding for this purpose. Similar additional days for high school students would be subject to the availability in district-level financing. The extra days should assess where students are to open the school year with a plan for how to engage in interventions and best facilitate student learning strategically.
  • Phase 4: Reopening and Continuity of Operations. This phase begins on the first day of the regular school year and lasts through the duration of the school year to ensure the successful continuation of teaching and learning. In addition to laying out recommendations for distancing and PPE, the report also lists potential scheduling models for educational delivery including:
    • Model 1: Traditional Scheduling. Allows students and staff to return to school as normal due to low or no spread of COVID-19 in the area. They should still incorporate some modifications, which could include strategies like class size caps, modified school days, staggered class dismissal, redesigning student arrival, minimizing student transitions during the day, and minimizing large group gatherings.
    • Model 2: Hybrid Scheduling. This scenario should be used during periods of medium spread of COVID-19 in the area. Only a portion of staff and students should report to a physical school building – some students will be physically present, and others will engage in distance learning. Districts could consider split schedule models such as the AM/PM model or alternating days.
    • Model 3: Full Distance Learning. This scenario should be used when all students and staff cannot return to a physical school building due to the high spread of COVID-19 in the area. Districts will rely on full distance learning in this model.

The document notes that the guidance in the report is not mandatory or required by the state.