Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of Hawaii’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them. Hawaii’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.
As schools and states gear up for the return to school, 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. ARP funds can be used to support the roadmap’s efforts.
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. Hawaii is receiving more than $274 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 Montana, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania. Today’s approvals mean a total of 22 ARP ESSER state plans have been approved since June.
“I am excited to announce approval of Hawaii’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.”
“The U.S. Department of Education’s continued investment in Hawaii’s public schools throughout the pandemic has provided us with a degree of certainty in very uncertain times. We are committed to using these resources to, in turn, invest in our students and their futures,” said Interim Superintendent Keith T. Hayashi. “Our priorities are centered around our efforts to safely begin the new school year with in-person learning to support the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students.”
The ARP ESSER state plans approved by the Department today, including Hawaii, 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:
- Safely Reopening Schools and Sustaining Safe Operations: The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) will continue to collaborate with the Hawaii State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on guidance for schools, complex areas, and state offices. HIDOE has worked with the state Department of Health and local healthcare providers to host vaccination clinics for staff, students, and school communities across the state. HIDOE has hosted 45 vaccination clinics since students became eligible for the vaccine.
- Supporting Students Most Impacted by the Pandemic: Using ARP ESSER funds, HIDOE will implement strategies to reengage students in in-person learning, such as through high-interest programs like Hawaiian Education or performing arts and funding academic coaches to provide more intensive individualized supports to students who are struggling to reengage in learning.
- Addressing the Academic Impact of Lost Instructional Time: To address the academic impact of loss instructional time and ensure that interventions implemented respond to students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, HIDOE will:
- Implement high-dosage tutoring extended learning time, academic coaching, and opportunities for credit recovery and remediation.
- Finalize a learning acceleration framework to provide guidance to schools, complex areas, and state offices to mitigate learning loss.
- Implement an accelerated personalized learning program that will target students who are behind grade level in mathematics or language arts, including individualized tutoring support, academic coaching, and personalized approaches to engagement and support services.
- Consider using funds in the development of COVID-19 Impact Plans for students with disabilities, which provide services in addition to Individualized Education Program (IEP) services that may extend beyond the school day. Services include tutoring, small group instruction, behavior supports, and other personalized supports as identified by the IEP team.
- Implement transition programs to help students transition to their next school, such as a summer state kindergarten transition program.
A total of 44 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.