Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of Georgia’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them. Georgia’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. Georgia is receiving $4.2 billion total in ARP ESSER funds, and today’s approval of their plan will result in the release of the final $1.4 billion. Additionally, the Department approved plans for Delaware, 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 Georgia’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.”
“In Georgia, we’ll be using ARP funds to support student learning, address lost learning opportunities, ensure safe school environments, and expand resources and supports for student mental health and wellbeing,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “From deploying state-level Academic Recovery Specialists, to establishing school-based health clinics, to providing opportunity grants to fund access to CTAE, fine arts, world-language, dual enrollment, and more—we are focused on using our resources to directly support schools and students.”
“For countless Georgia students, providing access to a quality education means ensuring access to their highest ambitions—and I know how important that is, firsthand.” said Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock. “I am glad the Department of Education approved this plan that will better support Georgia’s students and educators by investing in structural improvements to Georgia’s school buildings and helping address learning loss among our students.”
“After a challenging year of learning for our students and our parents, it is important that we do all we can to invest in our children and their futures,” said Rep. Lucy McBath. “Thanks to the hard work of the Biden Administration and my colleagues here in Georgia, this funding will provide vital resources for our schoolchildren, schoolteachers, and school districts. This is more funding to uplift our community, strengthen our schools, and create opportunities for our kids to grow and succeed.”
The ARP ESSER state plans approved by the Department today, including Georgia, 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 Georgia Department of Education’s (GaDOE) evidence-based interventions will include deploying the state’s Continuous Improvement Teams, designed to support schools by increasing bandwidth, infrastructure, and equipment for students and educators; creating and curating standards-aligned instructional resources and courses; and providing responsive and relevant professional learning.
- Investing in Summer Learning and Expanded Afterschool Programs: GaDOE will use ARP ESSER funds this summer to provide evidence-based summer learning and enrichment programs and afterschool programs for students across the state. In order to ensure that programming is widely available and of a high caliber that will promote recovery and future academic and development success, the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network (GSAN) will administer the Building Opportunities in Out-of-School Time (BOOST) grants. The BOOST program will offer three-year grants, renewed annually to community-based organizations that operate comprehensive out-of-school time programming over the summer months, after school during the academic year, or year-round, with the goal of providing evidence-based programming focusing on academic and non-academic barriers for students most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. GaDOE will grant $45 million to organizations with statewide reach and impact that operate year-round programming and would serve at least 2,000 youth annually across at least 15 counties, and $40 million to 100 to 120 community driven organizations operating afterschool and summer learning programs.
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.