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Missisippi’s plan for $1.6 billion in pandemic relief for education approved by the feds

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The U.S. Department of Education has approved Mississippi’s plan for spending pandemic-related education funds and launched the final third of the cash to the state. 

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund is meant to assist colleges run safely all through the pandemic and improve alternatives for college students whose academic expertise has been negatively impacted. The fund was first created in March 2020 in the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and has been replenished a number of instances all through the pandemic by federal laws. 

Mississippi was allotted $1.6 billion in the newest spherical of ESSER funds, this time by way of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The state obtained the first $1.08 billion in late March of this 12 months and the remaining $543 million was launched to the state yesterday. 

The plan features a full return to in-person studying, encouraging native vaccine drives at colleges, elevated particular person and small-group tutoring, summer time enrichment packages, and the state’s telehealth program for psychological well being counseling. 

“Mississippi has prioritized in-person learning because it is the most effective way to keep students engaged, accelerate learning and address their social and emotional learning needs,” stated Carey Wright, Mississippi state superintendent of education.

While a few of these efforts – like a return to conventional studying and encouragement of vaccine drives – are already in place, others have been delayed. 

The telehealth program talked about in the plan is a collaboration between the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Center for the Advancement of Youth (CAY) and the Achievement School District and Jefferson County School District. It consists of two components: a program that goals to equip lecturers with the abilities to determine and reply to behavioral points in their college students, and a referral to a counselor for college students who want extra assist. 

The program was initially set to launch in the fall however has been delayed till Jan. 12, 2022.

Teachers at each college districts advised CAY officers their college students are battling grief and loss, despair and anxiousness, neighborhood violence and cyberbullying. Experts at UMMC will focus their efforts in these areas. 

Adrian Hammitte, the superintendent of Jefferson County School District, stated the assist is far wanted as behavioral points in each the higher elementary and junior excessive colleges in his district have elevated. 

“I think we all know over the last two years it has been extremely hard for the students, teachers and community members here,” he stated. “And particularly in Jefferson County, if we look at our situation before COVID, it was already challenging.”  

The plan additionally consists of enhancing connectivity and know-how entry for rural and low-income college students.

 READ MORE: Follow the cash: Mississippi Today tracks how the state is spending billions in pandemic relief funds

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