Educators Nationwide Express Gratitude on Anniversary of Historic American Rescue Plan
Sarah Hager Mosby
WASHINGTON —AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement on the one-year anniversary of President Joe Biden’s signing of the landmark American Rescue Plan into law. In the year since, states and local communities have continued to use American Rescue Plan funds allocated by Congress to recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The American Rescue Plan transformed the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It provided $120 billion to reopen school buildings safely and support students socially, academically and emotionally, $7.6 billion for community health centers, and child tax credits that cut the child poverty rate in half. The American Rescue Plan also invested nearly $40 billion for colleges and universities, including supporting our nation’s historic or under-resourced institutions that educate students whose communities were most acutely affected by the pandemic. And these are just a few of the ways this plan helped. Biden’s relief package was quite literally a lifeline for an economy that desperately needed the tools and support that this federal aid provided to fight the pandemic and its terrible effects. It put resources directly into our cities and towns so the critical services that have carried us through this pandemic—including our public schools—could continue to operate and communities could stay on a path forward, toward recovery.
“The fastest economic recovery in American history would not have been possible without this administration’s commitment to maximize federal American Rescue Plan funding to build a better America. And after 12 months, the results of the American Rescue Plan tell a clear story about its positive impact on the nation.
“Our work now involves partnering with families to help students catch up and recover—to support students academically, emotionally and socially. Just as they worked to safely return to in-person learning, educators are looking forward: They yearn for post-pandemic normalcy and are working tirelessly to prepare for bright futures.”
Examples from some of our locals show how American Rescue Plan funds helped support our nation’s public schools, the educators who work there, and the students who learn there:
- The White Plains Teachers’ Association used Rescue Plan money to update school facilities and create new programs to help address student learning loss during the pandemic.
- The Yonkers Federation of Teachers used Rescue Plan funding to bolster and expand its community schools, which offer students mental health, dental and vision services and checkups.
- The funds also supported a union-led program to address long-standing support-staff shortages, which offers paths to paid internships for students. The funding enabled every building to have full-time support staff to offer the social-emotional supports students need.
- American Rescue Plan money was used across the state to provide better ventilation and higher cleaning standards for safer schools, and one-time stipends for those working in person at the beginning of the pandemic to provide lunches, transportation of food and other school supplies.
- Funds were also used to provide for COVID-19 leave (beyond the federal 10 days) if an employee contracted COVID-19 or cared for a family member with COVID-19, and to hire additional staff to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of students.
Cleveland Teachers Union
- American Rescue Plan money is being used to fund additional professional support positions such as a health professional in every school (either a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse), library aides, music teachers (so that every school has one) and PE teachers.
- Additionally, the district and the union launched a summer learning program for preK-12 students. Teacher participation was voluntary, and those who did participate were paid their daily rate.
- American Rescue Plan funds were used for COVID-19 mitigation in classrooms in order to maximize in-person learning. They also used the funds to provide grab-and-go meals that fed the student population and the community at large.
- Districts throughout Montana use Rescue Plan funds on summer school programs; technology and network upgrades; HVAC, air purifiers, air filters, cleaning, PPE, and water bottle filling stations; nurses, counselors and technology positions; and professional development for staff to address learning loss.
North Dakota :
- Fargo and West Fargo used some of their Rescue Plan money to hire behavioral specialists for schools.
# # # #
The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.