Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of Ohio's American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them. Ohio'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. Ohio is receiving more than $4.4 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 Oregon, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Tennessee. Last week, the Department approved the plans of six states and the District of Columbia.
"I am excited to announce approval of Ohio'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."
"Prior to the pandemic, Ohio instituted a five-year strategic plan for education aimed at challenging, preparing, and empowering each child for success," said Paolo DeMaria, Ohio superintendent of public instruction. "While the pandemic caused many disruptions and illuminated certain inequities, it also highlighted the strengths of our plan. As a result, we've remained aligned to our vision, goals, and priorities even as we've worked together to address pandemic-related challenges. Now, with American Rescue Plan support, we can further our efforts to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of students and educators while ensuring schools have the resources they need to provide safe in-person learning."
"Ohio students and faculty deserve to go to school in a safe environment that facilitates growth and prevents further learning loss," said Sen. Sherrod Brown. "For years, state and federal governments haven't provided the necessary investments in our school districts that have been put under further financial strain by the ongoing pandemic. I'm glad to see the Biden-Harris Administration stepping up to get resources to states that will allow students, especially those disproportionately affected by the pandemic, back in the classroom ahead of the new school year."
"As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's critical we ensure our students have the resources they need to safely return to the classroom. Not only have many students experienced learning loss from the events of the past year, but many are navigating new social and emotional challenges," said Rep. Tim Ryan. "It should be our priority as a state to make sure Ohio's students have the support they need as they return to the classroom this fall, and I'm proud to have helped provide funding to do just that."
The ARP ESSER state plans approved by the Department today, including Ohio, 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: The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) anticipates continued efforts from the state's schools and districts toward offering safe, fully in-person learning to all students who desire it.
- Supporting Students Most Impacted by the Pandemic: ODE will use state-level data to identify and report trends for students most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. ODE is building a multi-year plan to reach students impacted by the pandemic. Additionally, ODE requires each district to provide a description of how it is addressing the impact of the pandemic on particular groups of students.
- Supporting Students' and Educators Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs: ODE will prioritize trauma-informed and culturally responsive practices to meet students' academic, social and emotional needs when they reengage in learning during the summer and the 2021-2022 school year by responding to mental health data from the Ohio Healthy Youth Environments survey. Additionally, ODE is partnering with the Governor's office, the Ohio Department of Medicaid, and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to expand school-based services and increase behavioral and physical health supports for students.
A total of 40 states 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 ARP 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-Harris 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.