Schools across New York are in line to receive $3 billion in federal aid to help students, parents and teachers with the challenges of returning to the classroom following more than a year of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal government on Thursday backed the State Education Department's plan for aiding schools with academic support, early learning and mental health needs as schools set a goal for in-classroom instruction.
Education officials anticipate deep challenges, including catching up students who struggled with remote learning and may have fallen behind academically as a result. At the same time, schools will in the next month have to put in place rules for preventing the spread of the virus and make determinations for mask-wearing indoors.
The funding is coming to New York and other states through the American Rescue Plan, a pot of money previously approved by Congress as part of a broader pandemic recovery effort.
“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," said U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
There are 398 districts in the state given "high need" status by the state that will receive grants to help students affected by the loss of instructional time and allow schools to spend more money on summer learning.
The state is also distributing $195 million for full-day pre-kindergarten programs for children aged 4. And the State Education Department is working with the Mental Health Association of New York State to provide districts with training and bolster support for those who are struggling.