Another $923M in federal COVID funds coming to NJ schools
TRENTON – Another $923 million in federal funds to support New Jersey schools recovering from the pandemic is on its way to the state, bringing the total since last year to more than $4 billion.
The U.S. Department of Education today announced it had approved the state’s plan for how it will implement the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program from the American Rescue Plan. That’s the stimulus bill enacted in March.
The ESSER funds are intended to help schools safely reopen and sustain those operations, as well as address the academic, emotional and social impacts the pandemic has had on students.
Acting Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan said the state’s education community has “demonstrated exceptional resilience and grace in the face of unprecedented challenges.”
“New Jersey’s ARP ESSER state plan represents a significant step in our state’s road forward to empowering students, educators, and schools to safely return to in-person learning while addressing the academic, social, emotional, and mental health impacts of COVID-19,” Allen-McMillan said.
Among the initiatives planned are “acceleration coach and educator support” grants to address the academic impact of lost instructional time, with extra money for younger grades, students with lower incomes and students with limited English proficiency, as well as summer learning academies and afterschool supports such as tutoring.
This is the third batch of ESSER funds distributed by the federal government in response to the pandemic. The CARES Act approved in March 2020 provided $310 million, the CRRSA Act approved in December 2020 provided $1.23 billion, and ARP is providing $2.7 billion.
Two-thirds of the ARP ESSER funding arrived earlier in the year, but the final third was contingent on federal approval of the state’s plan. Twenty-eight state plans have been approved so far, including New Jersey and five others today.
“I am excited to announce approval of New Jersey’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.
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at email@example.com.