Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of Michigan's American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them. Michigan'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 students and states 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. Michigan is receiving $3.7 billion total in ARP ESSER funds, and today's approval of their plan will result in the release of the final $1.2 billion. Additionally, the Department approved Wyoming's state plan. Today's approvals mean a total of 41 ARP ESSER state plans have been approved since June.
"I am excited to announce approval of Michigan'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 enter 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."
"Our state ARP plan will help Michigan students better rebound from the disrupted learning that they experienced during the past year," said Michigan's State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. "I am very pleased that Secretary Cardona and the U.S. Department of Education approved our state plan and released the remaining $1.24 billion in federal funds for Michigan schools to improve our schools in myriad ways for children."
"This pandemic has been especially challenging for our educators, students, and parents," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow. "As students return to in-person learning, parents and educators are facing many challenges, including gaps in learning and the safety of students and teachers in the classroom. This investment from the American Rescue Plan will provide our schools with the resources they need to tackle these challenges head on."
"As we work to emerge from the pandemic, it is critical that our Michigan schools have the federal resources necessary to ensure a safe and effective learning environment for students, teachers, and staff," said Sen. Gary Peters. "Now that Michigan's plan is approved for using this American Rescue Plan funding we secured, our state can support additional efforts to expand early childhood education and literacy opportunities, while also enabling educators and students to be healthy and safe at schools."
"This pandemic has taken a huge toll on our education system. While we work to get the United States back on track, I'm thrilled that the Department of Education approved Michigan's plan to use valuable American Rescue Plan resources to support our schools," said Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence. "I'm especially proud to have fought for this funding in the COVID stimulus package, and I'm grateful that the Biden Administration is leading the way to building back better. This funding will significantly help in maintaining the health, safety, and success of our students, teachers, and school staff."
"The pandemic has taken a toll on education in our country — from learning loss to emotional and social impact and more for young students," said Rep. Debbie Dingell. "Together with the Biden-Harris Administration, Congress worked to provide critical resources through the American Rescue Plan. I am glad to see the Department of Education approve Michigan's plan for education-specific ARP funds, which will help expand early childhood learning opportunities, improve literacy for early education students, and keep our students and teachers safe while in school."
"I met with school superintendents from Macomb and Oakland Counties earlier this week, and they all shared just how difficult this moment is for them," said Rep. Andy Levin. "From learning loss to educator shortages, there is much we need to address. That's why I'm thrilled to see the Department of Education approve Michigan's plan to utilize the American Rescue Plan funds in a targeted and thoughtful way. I am confident that these resources will uplift every student, educator, staff and community member throughout Michigan."
"Students and educators in Michigan's 11th District have already benefitted immensely from the resources provided by President Biden's American Rescue Plan," said Rep. Haley Stevens. "I am so grateful to the Department of Education for their approval of our state's plan, enabling a safe return to the classroom and expanding learning opportunities. This was a bipartisan effort that reflects the interests of all Michiganders in helping our children thrive and getting parents back to work."
The ARP ESSER state plans approved by the Department today, including Michigan's, 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:
- Returning to In-Person Learning in 2021: All traditional public school districts are operating predominantly in-person this year, and all students have access to in-person learning.
- Safely Reopening Schools and Sustaining Safe Operations: The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has promoted collaborative partnerships between districts and local health departments to conduct vaccination clinics. In partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the MI Safe Schools Testing Program supports schools in providing COVID-19 testing to allow for safe, in-person learning. MDHHS is providing over $24 million in additional federal funding to school districts and local public health departments to hire 220 Health Resource Advocates to effectively support school-based COVID-19 testing and reporting.
- Addressing the Academic Impact of Lost Instructional Time and Expanding Summer and Afterschool Programs: School districts that receive state reserve funds will select evidence-based interventions that address the academic and social-emotional needs of their student populations that are most impacted by the pandemic. Districts will complete additional budget information and documentation on how they will use ARP ESSER funds for students disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
All 52 State Education Agencies 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 distribution of ARP ESSER funds is part of the Department's broader effort to support students and districts 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.