Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of New York’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them. New York’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. New York is receiving $8.9 billion total in ARP ESSER funds, and today’s approval of their plan will result in the release of the final $3 billion. Additionally, the Department approved plans for Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, 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 New York’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 ARP ESSER funds allow New York to not only plan for a safe and healthy opening of our schools in September but also to equitably expand opportunity for the students who need it most,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. “I thank President Biden and our Congressional delegation for securing these funds and the stakeholders across the state that submitted valuable feedback as we developed our plan.”
“New York’s plan creates a roadmap of how the state intends to use ARP ESSER funds to safely open and maintain a safe operation of schools this September,” said New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “With input from stakeholders, we have developed a plan to best disperse these funds to benefit all students, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic status.”
“COVID brought unprecedented challenges to our students, teachers, and families—this required a bold response from Congress,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer. “As Majority Leader, I was proud to make funding for our schools a top priority in the American Rescue Plan and to deliver historic levels of support. These resources will deliver much needed aid that will allow schools to implement public health protocols to safely reopen, and address students’ learning loss, and meet students’ long-term academic, social, and emotional needs. I am pleased to see the Department of Education approve New York’s plan. Help is on the way for New York schools.”
“The ongoing pandemic has disrupted learning across New York State and has put thousands of children at risk of falling behind in their education and development,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “I am proud to have worked hand in hand with the Biden-Harris Administration to secure these resources in the American Rescue Plan, which will help get students back to school safely and back on track with their education this fall. Every child deserves a quality education, and I am committed to closing the learning gap in New York and across the country.”
“New York’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan will ensure we have the resources to safely reopen our schools and deliver critical support services to the students and families who have been most impacted by the pandemic,” said Rep. Joe Morelle. “I am grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for their swift approval of the state’s proposal, and I am proud to have helped secure this funding as part of the American Rescue Plan.”
“The lives of our students and their families were completely upended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It presented unprecedented challenges that required unprecedented action from the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat. “We heeded that call to action with passage of the American Rescue Plan, delivering much needed resources to our constituents who needed them most. Learning loss and widening of the education gap over the past year and a half of this public health emergency have made the return of students to the classroom a top priority. I appreciate the New York State Department of Education putting forward an inclusive, thoughtful, and collaborative plan for the 2021-2022 school year and its approval by Secretary Cardona and the U.S. Department of Education. This money will help us get our children safely back in school and begin to address the social and emotional toll that this harrowing past year has had on our students, our educators, and our communities—and through it, building back better, and stronger than ever before.”
The ARP ESSER state plans approved by the Department today, including New York, 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, Investing in Summer Learning, and Expanding Afterschool Programs: The 2021-2022 enacted state budget fully allocated the ARP ESSER funds reserved to address the academic impact of lost instructional time, investing in summer learning through the ARP ESSER funding period, and expanding afterschool programs as subgrants to 398 high-need school districts. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) will require districts to utilize subgrant funds to implement evidence-based interventions. NYSED will provide technical assistance to support implementation and will monitor progress.
- Investing in Early Learning: NYSED will invest $195 million of its emergency reserve funds to fund new full-day prekindergarten programs for 4-year-olds and expand existing programs. The pandemic dramatically impacted pre-school children as many daycare, pre-school, and enrichment programs closed for much of the past year. NYSED will expand opportunities for 4-year-olds to attend free, public pre-K programs where they will be able to catch up on lost early childhood learning, socialization, and other foundational skills required for long-term success. A crucial goal of these programs will be to accelerate learning to mitigate the impact of lost instructional time and help close pre-existing performance gaps.
- Supporting Students’ and Educators Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs: NYSED collaborates with the Mental Health Association of New York State to provide districts with Mental Health First Aid training. Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illnesses, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common supports. NYSED also adapted trainings to focus on integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) and trauma-responsive practices into remote learning environments, where needed, in order to support development of students’ SEL competencies related to self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and reasonable decision making.
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.