From stimulus checks to vaccines, the United States federal government has spent $3.6 trillion in response to COVID-19, according to USA Spending.
Over $80 billion of funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) were distributed throughout the United States, The Department of Education stated in their press release that was published in 2021.
ARP was announced by President Joe Biden in 2021 in response to the pandemic.
The plan was created as a step to “invest in America” by creating jobs, fighting climate change, and “advancing racial equity.” ARP is aimed to change “the course of the pandemic” while also building a path to economic recovery and addressing the wake of inequities COVID-19 brought out, according to the White House website.
New Jersey received almost $3 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds in 2021, according to the State of New Jersey Department of Education.
The New Jersey Government website stated that the plans for the funds were a reflection on the state’s “commitment to supporting students, educators, and schools as they safely return to in-person learning while addressing the academic, social, emotional and mental health impacts of COVID-19.”
The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) also worked with stakeholders for further “input.”
Nearly $2 billion was released in March 2021, while the remaining money was released in August the same year, according to New Jersey ARP ESSER State Plan Highlights.
The state plan highlights also included that the top priorities for New Jersey’s 2021 plan included addressing the impact of remote learning and “meeting the social, emotional and mental health needs of students and staff.” Grants to Local Education Agencies (LEA) would be created to support hiring more staff, such as counselors for the mental and social well-being of staff and students.
In addition, the plan highlighted schools going back to in-person classes during 2021-2022 with proper safety policies such as social distancing and wearing masks.
Rowan University introduced a mix of in-person and hybrid courses in the Fall of 2020, according to Rowan Today.
Other highlights of the plan involved supporting students that were impacted the most by the pandemic and establishing an “Acceleration Coach and Educator Support formula grant” using a “weighted enrollment allocation formula that assigns additional weight to lower grade bands, [students limited in English], and students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.”
The funding would also be used for staff to learn about the needs of their students regarding “learning acceleration and interventions.”
To help students catch up, more summer learning activities and tutoring and training programs would be created for parents or caregivers.
Eight thousand awards were made around February and there were 33,500 Rowan students that were eligible for assistance.
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