Mississippi receives over $500M for K-12 school support
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is receiving $543 million from the federal government to implement health measures to keep K-12 schools open during the ongoing pandemic and provide internet access, tutoring and mental health support to students.
The money is part of a $1.6 billion federal package Mississippi has received as part of its portion of American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. The U.S. Department of Education is providing $130 billion in American Rescue Act funds for K-12 education to all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
Mississippi received its first funding allotment — more than $1 billion — in March. State officials needed to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education for the rest of the money; U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced Wednesday that Mississippi’s plan had been approved.
Mississippi Department of Education officials say they have hired 25 new medical staff on-site in schools and encouraged districts to host vaccination drives on campus.
The department is also using the federal funds to support a new behavioral telehealth project staffed by school staff in response to mental health concerns that may have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Educators will also be trained on behavioral management techniques.
In addition, the department will use the funding for intensive tutoring, summer learning and extended day programs and for improving internet connectivity and access to technology for all students, particularly for rural students and students from low-income backgrounds.
About 442,630 students are enrolled in Mississippi’s K-12 public schools this academic year, according to the Mississippi Department of Education.
As of December, nearly all U.S. schools are open for full-time, in-person instruction, Cardona said. The education secretary said the American Rescue Plan money is necessary to ensure states have the resources they need to stay open.
“The approval of these plans enables states to receive vital, additional American Rescue Plan funds to help keep schools open 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,” he said.