Students across the country continue to return to in-person learning after more than a year of varied access to the educational opportunities they need to succeed. For example, some estimates show that 3 million students have either been consistently absent from or have not been actively participating in remote learning since the beginning of the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Education (Department) has released “Strategies for Using American Rescue Plan Funding to Address the Impact of Lost Instructional Time,” a resource to support educators as they implement, refine, and work to continuously improve their strategies for supporting students. This guidance is intended to lift up these best practices and evidence-based approaches, all of which can be supported with American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. The new resource on lost instructional time is part of the Department’s Return to School Roadmap, a guide for states, schools, educators, and parents to prepare for the return to in-person learning this fall. The Roadmap focuses on three landmark priorities, including building school communities and supporting students’ social, emotional, and mental health.
Each section of the Roadmap provides strategies, resources, and tools for meeting the needs of underserved students by:
- Building trust with families and supporting safe in-person learning
- Supporting students’ social, emotional, and mental-health needs
- Utilizing approaches for accelerated learning, including high-quality tutoring
- Supporting students during key transitions and their reengagement in learning
- Using high-quality assessments to support student learning
While the pandemic has impacted all students, it has deepened pre-pandemic disparities in access and opportunities for students of color, multilingual learners, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ students. Schools can use ARP ESSER funds to respond to the urgent needs of students, address gaps in educational opportunity, and build local capacity to sustain meaningful and effective teaching and learning.