U.S. Department of Education Approves the District of Columbia's Plan for Use of American Rescue Plan Funds to Support K-12 Schools and Students, Distributes Remaining $128 Million

U.S. Department of Education Approves the District of Columbia's Plan for Use of American Rescue Plan Funds to Support K-12 Schools and Students, Distributes Remaining $128 Million

July 15, 2021

On Wednesday, July 7, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of the District of Columbia's American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plans and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them. The District of Columbia'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 will be made available once plans are approved. The District of Columbia is receiving more than $386 million total in ARP ESSER funds, and today's approval of their plan will result in the release of the final $128 million. Additionally, the Department approved plans for South Dakota, Texas, Rhode Island, Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Utah.

"I am excited to announce approval of the District of Columbia'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."

"We are thrilled that USED has approved DC's ARP state plan, which will guide us in the safe reopening of our school buildings, while we continue to focus on recovery efforts that meet the unique needs of our students and the community," said Acting State Superintendent Christina Grant. "Through our state plan, we prioritize a safe reopening when we welcome students and staff to our schools in the fall, focus on student and staff well-being, and promote accelerated learning to give our students the best opportunity to recover and move forward with a successful school year."

The ARP ESSER state plans approved by the Department today, including the District of Columbia, 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 and Safely Reopening Schools and Sustaining Safe Operations: DC plans to serve all students in person, five days per week, in fall 2021. To address the challenges of returning to in-person instruction and to ensure a safe reopening, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is requiring local educational agencies (LEAs) to develop detailed health and safety plans that outline how each LEA will safely reopen in a way that aligns with guidance from the CDC, DC Department of Health, and OSSE.
  • Staffing to Support Students' Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs: The District of Columbia is expanding its Comprehensive School Based Behavioral Health System to expand access to clinical services in public schools across the District of Columbia. This support is to ensure schools are fully staffed with behavioral health providers to deliver multi-tiered behavioral health systems and supports that are essential to the well-being of students and help prevent more complex, lifelong behavioral health challenges. Behavioral health clinicians (social workers and professional counselors) assigned full-time to schools provide prevention and mental health promotion activities to the whole school community and deliver early intervention and clinical services to assigned students. OSSE is also encouraging and supporting LEAs to plan for how district-level ESSER allocations may be used to support staffing their schools and training their teams to meet students' mental and physical health needs.
  • Investing in Summer Learning and Expanding Afterschool Programs: OSSE will expand Out of School Time grants using ARP ESSER funds in 2020-21, which will be awarded to 501(c)3 organizations that provide summer learning and afterschool programs, and have experience implementing evidence-based interventions. OSSE will collect participant level data from grantees and will evaluate academic performance of participants, including in-school attendance, afterschool attendance, and assessment data. All grantees that serve grades four or higher will be required to administer the Survey of Academic and Youth Outcomes to measure social and emotional learning.

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 is also 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.