You may have heard the federal government is giving millions of dollars to schools to address COVID-related expenses. Congress is providing these funds through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Act (ESSER).
These are one-time funds to help schools maintain operations through the challenges of the pandemic and to respond to the impacts of the pandemic on student academic progress and socio-emotional wellbeing.
Funding in Action
Here is a look at some of the ways we are investing COVID-relief funds in Highline.
During the first year of the pandemic, athletic programming was put on hold. Students were not able to participate in sports, causing many to feel even more disconnected from school. Thanks to federal relief funding, we brought back in-person athletic programming. ESSER funding paid for COVID testing for athletes and coaches three times a week this fall and winter. It also paid for live-streaming some athletic events to minimize the number of in-person spectators.
COVID Health Response
Early in the pandemic, principals and school nurses were overwhelmed with managing COVID safety requirements like contact tracing and notifications about positive cases. We used federal relief funding to hire staff to manage our COVID health response in schools. These staff members are responsible for COVID testing for students, staff and families; contract tracing; safety trainings; and connecting with families about COVID health protocols. They also help supervise our care rooms, where students with COVID symptoms wait for a ride home.
Isolation during the pandemic was hard on students' mental health and social-emotional development. We used federal funding to give grants to community partners for providing student enrichment programs. Some of these programs provide academic help. Others offer students in-person, after-school social opportunities in a safe and supportive environment.
Most of the first round of ESSER funding paid for digital devices and internet access for students. Other items included:
- Teacher professional development, planning and classroom supplies
- Health and safety improvements
- Preventing furloughs of critical employees, such as bus drivers, while school buildings were closed.
Top spending priorities for the second round of funding included:
- Support for student learning
- Health and safety measures
- School cleaning
- School opening expenses
- Enhanced communication
- Maintaining staff jobs
Under the guidance of the state, the third round of funding must be invested in the following areas:
- Student well-being
- Learning recovery & acceleration
- Student & family input
- Community partnerships
- Professional learning & diagnostic assessments
Learn more about how we are spending our COVID relief dollars by exploring our web section.