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A Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) card sent to families of eligible children is shown in 2020. A new round of benefits has been approved for West Virginia children and will be released in March 2021.

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Department of Education has started the process of distributing the next round of Pandemic EBT funding for students in the Mountain State.

On Monday, the WVDE began mailing letters to eligible students containing information about the benefit levels and card activation instructions, but did not include the card.

Those can be expected to be delivered to households by the end of April. While there are some similarities to the spring 2020 program, there are some new federal rules and guidelines for 2021.

Students must be enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program. They must qualify for free or reduced-price school meals or attend a school where everyone eats school meals for free due to the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).

Additionally, students cannot receive benefits for days they are in person at school. Only remote or virtual school days can be used when calculating benefit levels.

The benefit is equal to $6.82 for each eligible day. Students are eligible for the benefit for each day they were unable to attend a full, in-person instructional day due to school closures, hybrid schedules, quarantining for COVID-19 or other causes.

The benefit levels could be different for each student, even if they live in the same household. Each eligible student will receive their own card.

Cards will be mailed and delivered in April, but DHHR says households throughout the state will receive them at different times. Once received, the cards can be kept and future benefits will be loaded on to them.

P-EBT eligibility is connected to participation in the National School Lunch Program, free or reduced-price school meal status, and the days a student was remotely or virtually attending school.

Congress connected P-EBT with schools that are participating in the National School Lunch Program. All public schools in West Virginia participate in NSLP, as well as select private schools.

Luke Creasy is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook @HDcreasy or reach him by phone at 304-526-2800.

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