The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has approved Ohio’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan, and has begun distributing the more than $4.4 billion in funds to the state, announced U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Ohio’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.
The funding expansion comes as part of the American Rescue Plan Congress passed in March to provide critical assistance for Ohioans.
“Ohio students and faculty deserve to go to school in a safe environment that facilitates growth and prevents further learning loss,” said Brown. “For years, state and federal governments haven’t provided the necessary investments in our school districts, which have been put under further financial strain by the ongoing pandemic.”
The funding for Ohio’s approved ARP ESSER plan will:
- Return to In-Person Learning in 2021: The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) anticipates continued efforts from the state’s schools and districts toward offering safe, fully in-person learning to all students who desire it.
- Safely Reopen Schools and Sustain Safe Operations: Ohio is focused on providing vaccination opportunities to children ages 12 to 18 through several key channels, including pediatricians, school partnerships, and summer food service program sites. Schools have the ability to offer vaccine opportunities to children through vaccine providers during their extended or summer learning opportunities, as well as during the fall.
- Support Students Most Impacted by the Pandemic: ODE will use state-level data to identify and report trends for students most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. ODE is building a multi-year plan to reach students impacted by the pandemic. Additionally, ODE requires each district to provide a description of how it is addressing the impact of the pandemic on particular groups of students.
ODE will prioritize trauma-informed and culturally responsive practices to meet students’ academic, social and emotional needs when they reengage in learning during the summer and the 2021-2022 school year by responding to mental health data from the Ohio Healthy Youth Environments survey.
Additionally, ODE is partnering with the Governor’s office, the Ohio Department of Medicaid, and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to expand school based services and increase behavioral and physical health supports for students.