Governor Lamont Announces Federal Approval of Connecticut’s Plan For Coronavirus Emergency Relief Funding in Schools
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the U.S. Department of Education has approved his administration’s plan for use of the $110 million the State of Connecticut is receiving from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. The funding was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden earlier this year as part of the ongoing efforts to assist in recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state’s plan, developed by the Office of the Governor and the Connecticut State Department of Education, provides a comprehensive vision for maximizing both short-term and long-term investments of the federal funding with an emphasis on promoting renewal, reducing opportunity gaps, accelerating learning, and advancing equity.
The investments, as presented in the State Set-Aside Plan Executive Summary, will maximize both the short-term and the lasting impact of the federal funding by creating a parachute that will help the education community land safely following the COVID-19 pandemic while collecting the evidence to support continued funding for strategies that work.
“I applaud the many teachers and educational staff who have been working throughout this pandemic to engage our students and keep them actively involved throughout this difficult time,” Governor Lamont said. “Our administration will continue working with school districts to ensure that we can maintain these efforts and every student has access to the educational opportunities they deserve. I appreciate President Biden for approving this funding, and Connecticut’s Congressional delegation for their advocacy to ensure that our schools have access to these critical resources.”
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been striving to make the investments necessary to help our school communities meet their areas of greatest need, especially for those students disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker said. “This historic level of funding allows us, as one educational community, to be bold and innovative as we forge our path to a transformative and equitable recovery.”
“Federal pandemic relief funds have been fueling Connecticut’s strong recovery – helping our students catch up on lost learning this summer after a tough 2020 school year, and getting our local schools geared up for in-classroom learning this fall,” the members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation in a joint statement. “Towns across our state are all still getting back to full speed, and while the delta variant remains a serious concern this new round of American Rescue Plan funding will continue to help offset pandemic-driven budget deficits so that our schools can secure the tools they need to keep kids, teachers, and staff safe, and in the classroom.”
The approved plan outlines an investment in a variety of evidence-based initiatives designed for a transformative and equitable recovery. Initiatives include a statewide K-8 model curricula, extended access to online/digital platforms that accelerate learning and provide credit recovery, expanded access to high-quality, innovative summer enrichment and afterschool programs, additional supports for students with disabilities and English learners, college and career advising resources for high needs high school students, comprehensive supports for youth in the criminal justice system, and subgrants to local education agencies to facilitate high-dosage tutoring.
Recognizing the critical contributions of educators, the plan makes a significant investment in educator support, recruitment, and retention to ensure all educators have the supports – professional and personal – necessary to guide our students in the years following COVID-19.
The Connecticut State Department of Education is committed to continually soliciting diverse perspectives as it is essential to implementing a plan that advances equity and access, and is responsive to the needs of students, families, and educators. The data and feedback collected will be used to inform future investments deemed most effective in meeting its priorities and to establish systems of support that address the pandemic’s impact on students and schools in cooperation with educators, school staff, and families.
In addition, recognizing the complexity of making sustainable investments, the Connecticut State Department of Education is dedicated to providing support for the implementation of the $995 million in federal relief funds allocated to districts. District plans for those funds were due to the state by August 16 and are currently being reviewed.