Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of Kansas’ American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them. Kansas’ 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. Kansas is receiving $831 million total in ARP ESSER funds, and today’s approval of their plan will result in the release of the final $277 million. Additionally, the Department approved plans for Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, and New Mexico. Earlier this month, the Department approved the plans for 11 other states and the District of Columbia.
“I am excited to announce approval of Kansas’ 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.”
“Addressing student academic learning loss as well as the loss of social-emotional connections created by the pandemic has to be our immediate focus,” said Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson. “This infusion of federal aid into our education system allows us to aggressively address these issues to ensure our students get back on track for success.”
“This will be a back-to-school season like no other, and with American Rescue Plan resources, our schools will have the support they need to succeed,” said Rep. Sharice Davids. “I’m glad to see the Department of Education approve Kansas’ plan to implement these funds and get our kids back in classrooms safely while also addressing the toll this past year took on our students, educators, and communities.”
The ARP ESSER state plans approved by the Department today, including Kansas, 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: The Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) has identified several evidence-based interventions to mitigate the academic impact of lost instructional time, including focusing on the science of teaching language and literacy skills, standards-based mathematics instruction, social-emotional learning, screening and progress monitoring, and evaluation of learning progress toward achievement of state curricular standards.
Investing in Summer Learning and Expanded Afterschool Programs: KSDE will use ARP ESSER funds this summer (2021) to partner with youth-focused community organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Club, 4-H, and YMCA, to help recover lost instructional time in skill development due to the pandemic by using evidence-based summer learning and enrichment programs and afterschool programs. KSDE also plans to offset the cost of admission for students to visit museums, zoos, historical sites, state parks, and the Kansas state fair to promote experiential learning opportunities during the summer.
Staffing to Support Students’ and Educators’ Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs: ARP ESSER funding will allow KSDE to address a state-wide shortage in licensed professionals trained to address the documented social-emotional needs of students coming out of the pandemic. This will include a Grow Your Own Counselor model that encourages districts to identify candidates and employ them as student services coordinators while they develop their skills in an approved school counseling graduate program.
A total of 41 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:
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.