Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of Wisconsin’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plans and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to the state. Wisconsin’s plan details how the state is using and plans to use ARP ESSER funds to 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.
In Wisconsin’s approval letter, the Department outlined grant conditions that prohibits the state from using their 5 percent state reserve, as outlined in the state’s proposal, until the state’s plan is updated to meet the statutory requirements of the American Rescue Plan for the use of these funds to address learning loss.
Earlier this year, the Department distributed two-thirds of the ARP ESSER funds, totaling $81 billion, to 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The remaining third of the funding to states will be made available once state plans are approved. Wisconsin is receiving more than $1.5 billion total in ARP ESSER funds, and today’s approval of their plan will result in the release of the final $514 million. Today’s approvals mean a total of 49 ARP ESSER state plans have been approved since June.
“The Department is committed to working in partnership with your State so that your ARP ESSER funds are quickly put to work to ensure students have sustained access to in-person instruction as well as the comprehensive supports they need to recover fully from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a letter to Wisconsin’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jill Underly.
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:
- Held the Return To School Road Trip, a bus tour that visited schools across five states in five days to celebrate the safe return to school
- Announced new mental health resources to provide information and resources to enhance the promotion of mental health and the social and emotional well-being among children and students
- Launched the Return To School Roadmap to provide key resources and supports for students, parents, educators, and school communities to build excitement around returning to classrooms this school year and outline how federal funding can support the safe and sustained return to in-person learning
- Released three volumes of the COVID-19 Handbook
- Hosted a National Safe School Reopening Summit
- Prioritized the vaccination of educators, school staff and child care workers.
- 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. The Build Back Better legislation will offer access to universal and free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds and make education beyond high school more affordable—including offering more trainings and apprenticeships, by increasing the maximum Pell Grant and expanding financial aid access to DREAMers. It will also make historic investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and minority-serving institutions.
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