US Department of Education approves Indiana’s plan to use pandemic funds to support K-12 schools, distributes final $666M


High school students at school, wearing N95 Face masks.
Sitting in a classroom.

INDIANAPOLIS– The U.S. Department of Education announced the approval of Indiana’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan Thursday and distributed remaining funds.

Indiana’s plan details how the state plans to use the funds to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools while aslo expanding opportunities for those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indiana is receiving a total of $1,996,145,076 in ARP ESSER funds. Thursday’s approval of their plan will result in the release of the final $666 million. $1.3 billion was released in March.

Top priorities of Indiana’s plan:

  • Strengthen primary literacy instruction, including by helping schools and communities .
  • Strengthen, expand, and create effective K-12 pathways & linkages to postsecondary opportunities, and supporting schools to meet the needs of educators as schools re-open in the fall.
  • Improve guidance, support, and accessible data for those recruiting, educating, and mentoring rising educators.
  • Invest in a modernized data system to accurately report performance data and inform local decision-making.
  • Develop a suite of multidisciplinary online courses that can be deployed virtually or in-person.

Highlights of Indiana’s plan:

  • Returning to In Person Learning in 2021: All Indiana schools are expected to return to in person instruction or the 2021-2022 school year.
  • Safely Reopening Schools and Sustaining Safe Operations: The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) will continue to work alongside the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) to provide guidance on safely maintaining the health of students, educators, and other staff.
  • Addressing the Academic Impact of Lost Instructional Time & Investing in Summer Learning and Expanded Afterschool Programs: IDOE will be soliciting public comment through September 5 to inform its selection of evidence-based interventions to address the impact of lost instructional time, summer learning, and afterschool programs. Interventions that may incentivize and support local communities to reimagine educational opportunities and multidisciplinary course frameworks.
  • Staffing to Support Students’ Needs: IDOE will launch a program to provide over $2.5 million in ARP ESSER funds and IDEA, Part B funds to support licensure in high-need areas based on the Indiana Licensure Report. This report is made publicly available to assist LEAs in identifying gaps in licensure and identify high-need areas. This program will support licensure in special education and build on existing English learning licensure with the goal of assisting over 500 educators secure adequate licensure and avoid emergency placements for high-need areas.

“I am excited to announce approval of Indiana’s plan,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “It is heartening to see, reflected in these state plans, the ways in which states are thinking deeply about how to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities, particularly as we move into the summer and look ahead to the upcoming academic year. The approval of these plans enables states to receive vital, additional American Rescue Plan funds to quickly and safely reopen schools for full-time, in-person learning; meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs; and address disparities in access to educational opportunity that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The state plans that have been submitted to the Department lay the groundwork for the ways in which an unprecedented infusion of federal resources will be used to address the urgent needs of America’s children and build back better.” 

The U.S. Department of Education said the plan shows how Indiana is using federal pandemic resources to support safe in-person instruction and meet the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students—with a focus on the students most impacted by the pandemic.

“I am extremely pleased that Hoosier schools have received this major funding boost from the American Rescue Plan, which I worked hard to get passed by Congress,” said Rep. André Carson. “In order to build back better, we must improve our education systems, so students, teachers and staff can move beyond the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These resources will help Hoosier students get back to school safely and remain on the path to success. There’s still more to do, and I will continue working with the Biden-Harris Administration to strengthen our schools and communities.”

Learn more about the U.S. Department of Education’s Return to School Roadmap here.

Indiana Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner issued this statement:

“As we continue working to address the impacts of the pandemic, historic levels of state and federal education funding are providing Indiana schools with an unparalleled opportunity to improve outcomes for all students. Leveraging these funds, we must seize this opportunity to drive bold, innovative, collaborative solutions that strategically accelerate student learning, and ultimately strengthen student pathways leading to lifelong success.” 

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