District Five seeks input from the community

School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties is requesting public input on the spending of federal funds received from the U.S. Department of Education through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER), signed into law on March 11.

ARP ESSER provides a total of nearly $122 billion to states and school districts to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students. 

From those funds, the district received more than $15 million to reopen schools safely, support continued access to in-person instruction, and to address the academic, social, emotional and mental health needs of students resulting from the impact of COVID-19. The amount of each district’s award is based on the amount of Title I, Part A funds they received in summer 2020 from funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

School districts must seek public comment on the use of these funds to develop and finalize a Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan. Visit https://bit.ly/D5ESSERIIISurvey to complete the district survey by 11:59 pm August 11.

The district will host a Community Forum that will be held virtually on August 12 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. Interim Superintendent Dr. Akil E. Ross, Sr. will discuss back-to-school concerns, as well as the results from the Reentry and ESSER III Survey. Details will be shared at a later date via the school district’s automated telephone system, the district website, social media and local media outlets.

The district’s plan must consider the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented, vulnerable student subgroups, including each major racial and ethnic group, gender, low-income families, children with disabilities, multilingual learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care.

There are 15 allowable categories with ESSER III funds: Any activities authorized under ESSA, IDEA, Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, Perkins Act; Coordinate emergency response; Address needs of highly vulnerable populations; Ensure preparedness and coordination (systems & procedures); Training related to infectious diseases; Purchase cleaning supplies to sanitize and clean school; Planning/coordinating for continued education during long-term closures; Purchase education technology; Mental health supports; Summer learning; Addressing learning loss among students; Facility repairs and improvements to reduce the risk of virus transmission and exposure; Improvement of indoor air quality in school facilities; Developing strategies and implementing public health protocols including, to the greatest extent practicable, policies in line with guidance from the CDC for the reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain health and safety of students, educators and other staff; and other activities to ensure continuity of education and employment.