TUCSON – On the same day that Rep. Grijalva is hosting Secretary Cardona in Tucson to discuss the Build Back Better Agenda with students and education leaders, the Department of Education announced the approval of Arizona’s Plan for Use of American Rescue Plan Funds to support K-12 schools and students. The remaining $862 million in Arizona’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds have been distributed for a total of $2.5 billion. As a response, Rep. Grijalva issued the following statement.
“The impacts of the pandemic have been felt in so many sectors of our communities, and especially in our schools,” said Rep. Grijalva. “Students, educators, school staff and families have had to adapt to new ways of learning and communicating. I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration and my colleagues in Congress for responding to this critical moment and providing the necessary resources through the American Rescue Plan so school districts can return to in-person learning while protecting the health and safety of students and educators. These funds are especially critical for our lower-income schools, where communities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. I’m glad to see the Department of Education approve Arizona’s plan and distribute the remaining funds and look forward to seeing these resources put to good use to allow our schools to safely operate while also addressing learning loss and the social and economic toll that our communities have had to endure.”
Highlights of Arizona’s Plan:
• Returning to In-Person Learning in 2021: Arizona schools have returned to in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year. ADE launched the Ready for School campaign, which ran from June 2021 through September 2021, to encourage students and families to re-enroll in their public schools. The campaign used videos and advertisements to highlight the benefits of in-person instruction. ADE also created a hotline to support parents through the re-enrollment process.
• Safely Reopening Schools and Sustaining Safe Operations: Despite an ongoing court battle over the legality of mandating universal indoor masking, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) continues to stress the importance of universal and correct use of masks and encourages districts to work with their school communities to ensure consistent and correct usage of masks to the greatest extent possible.
• Addressing the Academic Impact of Lost Instructional Time and Expanding Summer and Afterschool Programs: ADE will implement evidence-based interventions that focus on three priorities: enrichment and reinforcement of learning; mental, behavioral, and physical health support for students and educators; and student and family re-engagement and support.
• Supporting the Educator Workforce: ADE has partnered with the state’s three universities and has created a dedicated Educator Recruitment and Retention team to support schools with recruitment, retention, and professional development strategies in partnership with local communities. This team has also developed and implemented Principal and Supervisor of Principal professional learning academies to build leadership capacity in school districts and charter schools to provide support for students and educators.
Full details from the Department of Education can be found here.