RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The state is investing nearly $7 million to research ways to make up for disruptions and lost time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state Department of Public Instruction and the North Carolina Collaboratory said Thursday that they were leading the $6.7 million project to fund 20 academic research teams across the state.

“This joint effort will be instrumental for policymakers as we seek to address the most pressing challenges K-12 students and educators face as a result of the pandemic,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt. “More importantly, this research provides a unique opportunity for the K-12 system to harness the research power of North Carolina’s great institutions of higher education.”

Each of those research teams is receiving between $150,000 and $500,000 for its project. Most are expected to last two years and some are scheduled to start in November.

DPI said the funding for the project comes from $30 million appropriated to the collaboratory last November for research and other projects focused on the public health and economic effects COVID had across the state.

“Utilizing a large portion of our most recent funding to better quantify learning loss and develop mitigation strategies for our state’s K-12 students is of critical importance to us,” said Dr. Jeff Warren, the collaboratory’s executive director.

“The (Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration’s)  guidance on research needs within our educational landscape have helped us build a robust, multi-institution research portfolio to expedite post-pandemic learning recovery for our students and their families," he added.