Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of New Hampshire’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them. New Hampshire’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 Hampshire is receiving more than $233 million total in ARP ESSER funds, and today’s approval of their plan will result in the release of the final $116 million. Additionally, the Department approved plans for Hawaii, Montana, New York, 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 Hampshire’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.”
“New Hampshire learners, families, and educators have demonstrated incredible resilience and dedication throughout the past year and half, and we are excited to return to school safely and in-person this fall,” said New Hampshire Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut. “Through innovation and individualized instruction and supports, the New Hampshire Department of Education, our schools, and our community-based organizations have leveraged these unprecedented resources to meet the needs of students in all educational environments. We are proud of our learner-centered approach to realizing the Granite State’s vision for education—‘Live Free and Learn.’ ”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an all-encompassing impact on New Hampshire schools. Our kids, families and teachers experienced immense challenges, which is why securing robust federal relief for our schools to address these obstacles was a top priority for me during negotiations for the American Rescue Plan,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. “The approval of New Hampshire’s ESSER plan is an important step that will enable the state to use these additional funds to help students and faculty return safely to school in the fall, address learning loss incurred during the course of the pandemic, meet students’ needs and more. I’ll keep fighting to ensure Granite State schools, teachers, and staff have the resources they need to help our students turn the corner of this crisis.”
“Granite State students and teachers have shown incredible resiliency during the pandemic, and it is important that we help them stay safe this fall for in-person learning,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan. “That is why Congress worked to pass critical education resources in the American Rescue Plan, and I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Education approved New Hampshire’s spending plan to help meet students’ academic, social, and emotional needs. I will continue to work with my colleagues to help our young people thrive.”
The ARP ESSER state plans approved by the Department today, including New Hampshire, 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:
- Investing in Expanded Afterschool Programs: The New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE) is considering using ARP ESSER funds to partner with multiple community-based organizations and schools to provide wraparound services, such as digital literacy and joint family instruction, to low-income students and English learners, and provide high-quality afterschool STEM enrichment, including robotics. NHDOE is also considering expanding its ReKINDling Curiosity program, which provides low-income students and students with disabilities the opportunity to attend a licensed New Hampshire camp.
- Supporting Students’ and Educators Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs: The state education agency has contracted with the New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association and the Association for the State Community Mental Health Centers. Through this $500,000 contract, all New Hampshire camp counselors (ages 14 and up) can access training this year and next year to help identify and respond to the mental and behavioral health issues of students.
- Supporting Educators: NHDOE will utilize its critical shortage survey results that will be collected in October 2021 to evaluate if higher than normal levels of retirement and attrition are resulting from the pandemic. This will inform strategies to support the teacher workforce and future teacher recruitment. The NHDOE also rolled out an extensive training program to all educators to help equip and provide them with tools for online instruction, including a statewide learning management system and high-quality instructional materials for all students and educators.
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.