New Hampshire educators joined Congresswoman Ann Kuster today for a roundtable discussion on the effect COVID has had on our school year and the impact the newly passed American Rescue Plan can have on helping our recovery.
NEA-NH members Dan Brodien from Littleton High School, Jennifer Aiken from Vilas Middle School, Christopher Gagnon, from Chichester Central High School, and Larry Ballard from Amherst Middle School, joined Congresswoman Kuster in a wide ranging discussion on how COVID has impacted their personal and professional lives.
Congress passed a historic economic relief package, the American Rescue Plan, which will provide critical funding to supports students and help alleviate suffering felt by millions of Americans.
Because of the American Rescue Plan, the lives of America’s students, educators and their families will improve in significant ways.
This a historic economic relief package includes:
- nearly $170 billion dedicated to public schools and colleges,
- more than $7 billion for E-Rate to help address the Digital Divide that has disproportionally affected students in rural areas and communities of color,
- almost $350 billion in local and state aid to keep frontline workers including educators on the job and students with the dedicated education personnel they need.
Our public schools and institutions of higher education can use these and other funds in the American Rescue Plan:
- To hire more teachers, paraeducators, custodians, nurses and counselors,
- To implement safety protocols and acquire PPE,
- To improve ventilation and HVAC systems,
- To help students deal with incredible trauma and lost opportunities to learn they’ve endured this past year,
- To put devices and the internet in the hands of students who have been locked out of online learning, and
- To feed hungry students and provide assistance for homeless students.
This federal legislation also will expand testing and vaccination sites so we can hopefully, finally, get the spread of the pandemic under control.
Schools should be the safest place in any community. The science continues to back what educators, families and health experts have been saying for months: We can and must provide students the opportunity to return to in-person learning, but we also must ensure that every school has the resources to put in place effective safety measures to keep students and educators safe. The ARP provides the resources to help accomplish this goal.
“We finally have the response we’ve been asking for to provide students, educators, and families the relief we desperately need, and the resources to help every school implement measures to keep students and educators safe. This really is historic legislation that will also lift countless children and families out of poverty,” said Larry Ballard. “Now, we must make our voices heard so that state and local leaders ensure all students receive the support, tools and resources they need so that school buildings and college campuses can reopen — and stay open — safely and equitably.”