Connecticut receives federal approval for Emergency Relief Funding in schools

The U.S. Department of Education has approved the use of $110 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding for Connecticut’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund as part of ongoing efforts to assist in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding, according to a news release from the governor’s office, will maximize the short-term and long-lasting impact of the money by creating a parachute that will help school districts operate through the pandemic and collect evidence to support continued funding for strategies that work.

“Our administration will continue working with school districts to ensure that we can maintain these efforts and every student has access to the educational opportunities they deserve,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in the news release. “I appreciate President Biden for approving this funding, and Connecticut’s Congressional delegation for their advocacy to ensure that our schools have access to these critical resources.”

The funding will be used as a one-time, self-sustaining investment in programs such as “train the trainer” and programs that have high startup costs but a lower or sustainable cost for long-term maintenance of the programs, according to the governor’s executive summary of the plan.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been striving to make the investments necessary to help our school communities meet their areas of greatest need, especially for those students disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker said in the release. “This historic level of funding allows us, as one educational community, to be bold and innovative as we forge our path to a transformative and equitable recovery.”

Investments in the program are heavily focused on measurement and impact so that once funding runs out, there is proof the programs merit long-term investment, the governor said.

The state’s education plan, which was developed by the governor’s office in conjunction with the Department of Education, looks to maximizing the long- and short-term investments with an emphasis on promoting renewal, reducing opportunity gaps, accelerating learning and advancing equity.

“Federal pandemic relief funds have been fueling Connecticut’s strong recovery – helping our students catch up on lost learning this summer after a tough 2020 school year, and getting our local schools geared up for in-classroom learning this fall,” the members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation said in a joint statement. “Towns across our state are all still getting back to full speed, and while the delta variant remains a serious concern this new round of American Rescue Plan funding will continue to help offset pandemic-driven budget deficits so that our schools can secure the tools they need to keep kids, teachers, and staff safe, and in the classroom.”

Initiatives in the plan include a statewide K-8 model curriculum, extended access to online/digital platforms designed to accelerate learning and provide credit recovery, expanded access to high-quality, innovative summer enrichment and after-school programs, and will provide additional support for students with disabilities and English-language learners.

College and career advising resources for high needs high school students, support for youth in the criminal justice system and grants to aid local education agencies to facilitate high-dosage tutoring are included in the initiative.

The governor’s office also said the plan features investment in educator support, recruitment and retention to ensure all teachers have the personal and profession support to guide students for years to come.

The state’s Department of Education, the release reads, is also providing support for the implementation of the $995 million in federal relief funds. School districts submitted their plans on how they will spend that money with the state.

The state has already used coronavirus relief funding to purchase needed devices and connectivity, supported districts’ purchase of personal protective equipment and cleaning services, in addition to subsidized additional and substitute staffing.

This article was originally posted on Connecticut receives federal approval for Emergency Relief Funding in schools

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