Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) American Rescue Plan Outlying Areas State Educational Agency implementation plan. GDOE’s plan details how American Rescue Plan funds will be used to 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.
The Department released the Return To School Roadmap, which provides key resources and supports for students, parents, educators, and school communities to build excitement around returning to classrooms this school year and outlines how federal funding can support the safe and sustained return to in-person learning. American Rescue Plan funds can be used to support the Roadmap’s efforts.
“I am excited to announce approval of the Guam Department of Education plan,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “It is heartening to see, reflected in these plans, the ways in which education systems are thinking deeply about how to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities. The approval of these plans enables education systems 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 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 pleased to receive the U.S. Department of Education’s approval notification of the $287 million funding from the American Rescue Plan Outlying Areas State Educational Agency,” said Superintendent of Education Jon J.P. Fernandez. “Participating public, charter, and private, non-public schools are eager to implement activities outlined within the approved ARP-OA-SEA Implementation Plan to accelerate student learning and achievement, close learning gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide a safe learning environment. With these grant funds, the Guam Department of Education will support the safe return of students to in-person instruction and maintain a safe school environment through the investment of these dollars into the repair and renovation of school campuses. We thank Secretary Cardona and his staff for their review and endorsement of GDOE’s ARP-OA-SEA implementation plan.”
The implementation plan approved by the Department today outlines how federal pandemic funds are supporting safe, in-person instruction and the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students—with a focus on the students most impacted by the pandemic. For example:
- Returning to In-Person Learning in 2021: Capital Improvement Projects – Guided by recommendations from the Department of Interior - Office of Insular Affairs, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Initiative Assessment of Buildings and Classrooms, GDOE will undertake several projects to improve and update facilities at multiple schools. These projects will allow GDOE to safely operate all school sites to ensure compliance with health and safety guidelines and allow for the maximum number of in-person student populations.
- Addressing the Academic Impact of Lost Instructional Time: Classroom Instruction that Works (CITW) Professional Development – Drawing on the research of the widely regarded instructional strategies and resources of CITW, GDOE seeks to accelerate student achievement by preparing teachers to use the most effective approaches to planning, teaching, and assessment using technological resources, such as tablets, laptops, interactive whiteboards, document readers, and virtual and augmented reality setups to support student learning.
- Investing in Summer Learning and Expanded Afterschool Programs: The Summer Academic Academy (K-8 and High School) – The Summer Academic Academy supports students’ learning recovery from previous COVID-related learning experiences. The approaches to the academic lessons will help provide opportunities to ensure that students are progressing toward grade-level proficiency in the core academic subjects. The Academy provides students an opportunity to address any learning challenges during the school year, based on student grades, faculty recommendations, and parents’/guardians’ requests.
The American Rescue Plan Outlying Areas State Educational Agencies Fund, authorized under Section 2005 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, provides $850 million for the Secretary of Education to allocate to the Outlying Areas (American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) on the basis of their respective needs. The Secretary allocated these funds to support safely reopening and sustaining safe operations of schools while meeting the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students resulting from the pandemic.
Today’s approval of the implementation plan is part of the Department’s broader effort to support teachers and other educators as they work to re-engage 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:
- Held the Return To School Road Trip, a bus tour that visited schools across five states in five days to celebrate the safe return to school.
- Launched the Return To School Roadmap to provide key resources and supports for students, parents, educators, and school communities to build excitement around returning to classrooms this school year and outline how federal funding can support the safe and sustained return to in-person learning.
- Released three volumes of the COVID-19 Handbook.
- Hosted a National Safe School Reopening Summit.
- Announced a new grant program to provide additional funding to school districts that have been financially penalized for implementing strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as universal indoor masking.
- Prioritized the vaccination of educators, school staff, and child care workers.
- Provided $10 billion in funding for COVID-19 testing for pre-K-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.