On Aug. 12, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) approved the release of the final $923.5 million New Jersey is scheduled to receive under the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) to help schools cope with the pandemic.
The release of the funds had been expected. About $1.8 billion in ARP funds had been released on March 24. The USDOE released the following summary of the New Jersey plan:
New Jersey ARP ESSER State Plan Summary
- Total ARP ESSER allocation for New Jersey: $2,766,529,533
- ARP ESSER funding released to New Jersey on March 24, 2021: $1,843,058,469
- ARP ESSER funding released to New Jersey on August 12, 2021: $923,471,064
- 2020-2021 Preliminary Statewide Enrollment: 1,373,960
Top Priorities within New Jersey’s Plan
- Addressing the impact of reduced access to in-person learning including unfinished learning.
- Meeting the social, emotional, and mental health needs of students and staff.
Highlights of New Jersey’s Plan
- Returning to In-Person Learning in 2021 New Jersey school districts must plan to provide full-day, full-time in- person instruction and operations for the 2021-2022 school year. The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) worked closely with the New Jersey Department of Health in its development of COVID-19 public health recommendations for local health departments for K–12 schools. That support has helped Local Education Agencies (LEAs) implement mitigation policies such as proper distancing, face mask requirements, and hand-washing etiquette.
- Supporting Students Most Impacted by the Pandemic The NJDOE will provide guidance and technical assistance on the use of ARP ESSER funds that highlights how allowable activities may be used to advance educational equity. As part of their ARP ESSER Use of Funds application, LEAs will be required to provide information on their plans to use ARP ESSER funds to implement an equitable and inclusive return to in-person instruction.
- Addressing the Academic Impact of Lost Instructional Time New Jersey plans to establish an “Acceleration Coach and Educator Support” formula grant for districts. New Jersey will use a weighted enrollment allocation formula that assigns additional weight to lower grade bands, Limited English Proficient Students, and students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Districts will use the grant funds to implement professional learning for staff to help better understand needs of their students with regards to learning acceleration and interventions. Funds will also be used in developing positive school climate, implementing social and emotional learning supports, supporting culturally responsive teaching practices, increasing digital and data literacy, engaging educators and parents in the community to personalize students’ learning, identifying disproportionate impacts of COVID-19, and other services to support educators meeting needs of their students.
- Investing in Summer Learning and Expanded Afterschool Programs The state plans to develop a Summer Enrichment Activities formula grant for districts to support summer learning academies and tutoring, professional learning for educators, and education and training programs for parents and caregivers. Districts must target funds to content areas most impacted by COVID- 19 at that district, such as STEM, younger grade levels, or performing arts. Additionally, the state plans to establish a Comprehensive Beyond the School Day Activities formula grant which will support implementation of research-based programs such as tutoring and broader learning supports to families and educators.
- Staffing to Support Students’ Needs The NJDOE will use a portion of its ARP ESSER state set-aside to establish a grant to LEAs to support the hiring of staff, including counselors, to address students’ and educators’ mental health and social emotional needs.
New Jersey LEAs will be required to submit plans on how they will use the money by November 2021. Details of the full state plan that was approved by the U.S. Department of Education can be accessed here.