The Pierce County Council on Aug. 18 passed an emergency resolution declaring its intent to establish a grant program supporting schools in modified operation because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funds for the program would come from the $158 million Pierce County received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed by Congress on March 27.

This resolution provides early notice to the Finance Department so that staff can be prepared to implement it “expeditiously,” explained Hugh Taylor, senior legal analyst.

The council also discussed and considered an ordinance regarding the grant program at its meeting Tuesday. Pierce County Council Chair Douglas Richardson noted the council is working with the Finance Department to expedite getting funds to schools as soon as possible after the presumed passage of said ordinance.

“I believe we’re on a trajectory to accomplish that,” Richardson said. Derek Young, one of the sponsors of the resolution, indicated the importance of getting funds to schools before the start of the atypical 2020-21 school year. The impact of COVID-19 means schools will be engaged in remote learning, including some schools using a hybrid model that combines the traditional classroom experience with digital course delivery.

The funds would benefit schools that need funds to operate effectively beginning this fall.

“A large number of my constituents can’t even acquire broad band, even if they wanted to,” Young said. “Other districts have expressed needs for equipment such as laptops, iPads, and others have had various combinations of things that they would pursue.”

The council passed two other resolutions: Proposal No. R2020-66, commemorating the 150th anniversary of Hazard Stevens and Philemon Beecher Van Trump being the first documented people to ascend and stand on the Mount Rainier’s 14,411-foot summit on Aug. 17, 1870, as well as Proposal No. R2020-63, setting 5 p.m., Monday, Aug. 31, in the Pierce County Chambers as the District No. 1 evening council meeting. The county charter requires an evening meeting each year for each district.