DALLAS — The U.S. Department of Education approved Texas’ plan to use American Rescue Plan funds to support students from grades K-12, distributing an additional $4.1 billion for the summer and upcoming school year, officials with the department announced Wednesday.
The remaining funds were part of the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, which was approved to help schools across the country safely reopen and address the impact of the pandemic. In total, Texas will receive more than $12.4 billion in ARP ESSER funds. The approval of the plan will now release the final $4.1 billion that had yet to be distributed, the department said.
The $122 billion total in federal funds is being used to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools across the nation, as well as equitably expand opportunities for students who need it most, particularly those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the department said.
Top priorities in Texas’ plan included addressing lost instructional time through extended learning, summer and afterschool programs, as well as supporting students' mental health needs, officials said.
Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath added the plan will address COVID-related lost instructional time.
Preliminary statewide enrollment for the upcoming school year is 5,372,806 students, according to officials. All schools will be required to offer in-person learning.
Students across the state will have access to specialized tutoring, high-quality instructional materials, and job-embedded professional learning to strategically address the academic impact of the pandemic, Morath said in a statement.
"These funds will support our state’s comprehensive roadmap to learning recovery,” he added.
The TEA also plans to use the funds to provide evidence-based comprehensive afterschool programs to students. It will include “high-dosage tutoring and job-embedded professional learning.”
The DOE said local education agencies will have access to screening testing and may also offer COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible students and educators.
As of the end of May, an estimated 84% of teachers and school staff were fully vaccinated, the department said.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement that the approval of Texas' and other states' plans will help meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, as well as address disparities in access to educational opportunities that were made worse by the pandemic.
“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,” Cardona explained.