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Legislative Update

ED Secretary Miguel Cardona: American Rescue Plan Funding Will Be Out to States This Month

By Jodi Peterson

Posted on 2021-03-19

ED Secretary Miguel Cardona: American Rescue Plan Funding Will Be Out to States This Month

On March 17, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a letter to the heads of state education departments that the U.S. Department of Education will begin to make funds through the American Rescue Plan available to all states this month. (Find out how much your state will receive under the ARP and learn more about education funding in the rescue bill Congress passed here.)

According to the Department, the funding to states and districts can be used for:

  • Investing in resources to implement CDC’s K-12 operational strategy for in-person learning to keep educators, staff, and students safe; improving ventilation; purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE); and obtaining additional space to ensure social distancing in classrooms.
  • Avoiding devastating layoffs and hiring additional educators to address learning loss, providing support to students and existing staff, and providing sufficient staffing to facilitate social distancing.
  • Implementing strategies to meet the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students hit hardest by the pandemic, including through evidence-based interventions and critical services like community schools.
  • Funding crucial summer, afterschool, and other extended learning and enrichment programs.
  • Hiring additional school personnel, such as nurses and custodial staff, to keep schools safe and healthy.
  • Providing for social distancing and safety protocols on buses.
  • Funding for Wi-Fi hotspots and devices for students without connectivity for remote learning and supporting educators in the effective use of technology; and
  • Additional uses as allowed in the statute

“This pandemic has taken an extraordinary toll on students, parents, educators, and schools, and we know that our schools, students, and communities need help now to reopen safely and quickly, and to stay open,” said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “These funds from the American Rescue Plan and the extraordinary steps the Department is taking to get these resources to states quickly will allow schools to invest in mitigation strategies to get students back in the classroom and stay there, and address the many impacts this pandemic has had on students—especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.”

The letter from Secretary Cardona also emphasized that American Rescue Plan funds should be used by states and school districts to equitably expand opportunities for students who need the funds most. More here.

National Safe School Summit Planned for March 24

The virtual National Safe School Reopening Summit, which will take place on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 12pm EDT, will include welcoming remarks from First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, as well as remarks from Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel A. Cardona and the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky. Three panels that will include health experts, educators and education leaders, and students will highlight effective school reopening approaches and share promising strategies to support the social, emotional, and academic development needs of students. Technical experts from CDC and ED will discuss CDC’s K-12 Operational Strategy, ED’s COVID-19 Implementation Handbook, and other resources. For registration information, check the ED website at

In Other News

Last week NSTA and the STEM Education Coalition sent a letter to President Biden, requesting that his Administration re-launch the White House Science and Engineering Fair and consider other science and STEM related events.  “On behalf of our broad community of organizations united in the goal of advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, we are writing to urge you to use your White House “bully pulpit” to the maximum extent possible to highlight the critical role that learning in the STEM subjects plays in advancing our country’s technological leadership and economic future,” states the letter, which you can read here.

Jodi Peterson is the Assistant Executive Director of Communications, Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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