MAINE, Maine — The federal government has released the final $137 million in COVID relief funds to the state of Maine designated for helping schools reopen safely.
The funds were released after the U.S. Department of Education approved the state's American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief plan, the DOE said in a release.
Maine will see more than $411 million in American Rescue Plan funding "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," U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in the release.
According to the state, in addition to safely reopening schools for in-person learning this fall and sustaining safe operations, Maine's plan focuses on:
- Addressing the academic impact of lost instructional time, including developing opportunities for students to gain credit by working with community-based and work-based organizations.
- Encouraging districts to focus on social-emotional learning, mental and behavioral health programs, restorative alternatives to exclusionary discipline, trauma-informed practices, student-centered learning through project-based instruction
- Meeting emergency needs funding for mental health support for students, educators, and families
- State coordination of efforts to encourage local schools to partner with community organizations to support afterschool programming
- Development of a fast-track training program for paraprofessional-level educators
Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin said, "These funds will support state-level efforts to propel our education system forward with a whole child focus, and will assist schools with innovative programming to address the academic and social-emotional needs of students while ensuring that they are learning in an environment that is safe and healthy."