Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of Delaware’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them. Delaware’s plan details how the state is using and plans to use ARP ESSER funds to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and equitably expand opportunity for students who need it most, particularly those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, the Department distributed two thirds of the ARP ESSER funds, totaling $81 billion, to 50 states and the District of Columbia. The remaining third of the funding to states will be made available once state plans are approved. Delaware is receiving more than $410 million total in ARP ESSER funds, and today’s approval of their plan will result in the release of the final $137 million. Additionally, the Department approved plans for Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, and New Mexico. Earlier this month, the Department approved the plans for 11 other states and the District of Columbia.
“I am excited to announce approval of Delaware’s plan,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “It is heartening to see, reflected in these state ;plans, the ways in which states are thinking deeply about how to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities, particularly as we move into the summer and look ahead to the upcoming academic year. The approval of these plans enables states to receive vital, additional American Rescue Plan funds to quickly and safely reopen schools for full-time, in-person learning; meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs; and address disparities in access to educational opportunity that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The state plans that have been submitted to the Department lay the groundwork for the ways in which an unprecedented infusion of federal resources will be used to address the urgent needs of America’s children and build back better.”
“I am grateful for Secretary Cardona’s and his team’s support of Delaware’s plan. Our students and educators are excited to return to school this fall. These funds will help our schools provide the structures and supports to meet students’ academic and social/emotional needs,” Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said.
“As we were working to craft the American Rescue Plan, a top priority was ensuring that our schools, teachers, students, and families had the resources they need to address learning loss and return to school safely,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “I am hopeful that with these federal funds from the American Rescue Plan, Delaware will be on track to meet the needs of our First State communities, from school leadership to educators to students and their families.”
The ARP ESSER state plans approved by the Department today, including Delaware, show how states are using federal pandemic resources to support safe in-person instruction and meet the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students—with a focus on the students most impacted by the pandemic. For example:
- Addressing the Academic Impact of Lost Instructional Time: The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) has identified a number of evidence-based interventions for which it may use ARP ESSER funds, which will be refined and finalized after further discussions with DDOE staff, local educational agencies, community organizations, and additional stakeholders. The funds may be used for designating ESSER funds to engage students who have missed the most instruction, providing educators with professional learning to most effectively use data to meet student needs, providing access to student and family supports in families’ home languages, focusing on mental health literacy, and providing additional supports and counseling.
- Investing in Summer Learning and Expanded Afterschool Programs: DDOE has identified a number of evidence-based interventions for which it may use ARP ESSER funds this summer (2021), which will include high-dosage tutoring, expanding online reading platforms, and expanding access to high-quality instructional materials.
- Supporting Students’ and Educators’ Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs: DDOE will extend its Social, Emotional and Behavioral Wellbeing plan (SEBW) to provide districts and schools with support and resources to identify and provide interventions to students who may be experiencing mental health challenges. The SEBW plan also demonstrates how schools can use current and new support staff alongside strategic system approaches to strengthen social, emotional, and behavioral wellbeing.
A total of 41 states and the District of Columbia have submitted their ARP ESSER state plans to the Department. The Department is reviewing the plans expeditiously and is in contact with states to ensure their plans meet all necessary requirements in order to access the remaining funds, as outlined in the ARP. The Department also is in contact with states that have not yet submitted plans, the vast majority of which are due to state board of education or legislative review requirements.
The distribution of ARP ESSER funds is part of the Department’s broader effort to support students and districts as they work to reengage students impacted by the pandemic, address inequities exacerbated by COVID-19, and build our education system back better than before. In addition to providing $130 billion for K-12 education in the American Rescue Plan to support the safe reopening of K-12 schools and meet the needs of all students, the Biden-Harris Administration also has:
- Released three volumes of the COVID-19 Handbook.
- Held a National Safe School Reopening Summit.
- Prioritized the vaccination of educators, school staff and child care workers. As of the end of May an estimated 84% of teachers and school staff were fully vaccinated.
- Provided $10 billion in funding for COVID-19 testing for PreK-12 educators, staff, and students.
- Launched a series of Equity Summits focused on addressing inequities that existed before, but were made worse by the pandemic.
- Released a report on the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on underserved communities.
- Developed a Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse elevating hundreds of best practices to support schools’ efforts to reopen safely and address the impacts of COVID-19 on students, educators, and communities.
In addition to the actions the Biden Administration has taken to reopen schools, the President has proposed critical investments through his Build Back Better agenda that will enable schools to rebuild stronger than they were before the pandemic, such as investing billions to build a diverse educator workforce, expand access to pre-K to all families, and invest in school infrastructure, among other provisions.