North Dakota Department of Education Plans to Spend Relief Funds to Address Learning Loss in Pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, the Ministry of Education received approximately $ 475 million in emergency relief funds for elementary and secondary schools under the three rounds of federal COVID-19 relief programs adopted by the Congress. The largest sum came in March as part of President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus bill, from which the Education Department received roughly $ 305 million.

Ninety percent of the $ 305 million is needed to go directly to school districts in North Dakota, while about $ 30 million goes to the Department of Education to devote efforts across state to deal with the educational and emotional hardships some students experienced during the pandemic.

In a 64-page plan, the Department of Public Education detailed the impacts students faced and local and state efforts to help students. Based on feedback from stakeholders and districts, the Education Ministry plans to spend more than half of its funds to deal with the loss of teaching time caused by the pandemic, according to the plan.

The ministry is seeking public input on its plan and is also taking suggestions from the public on how it should use the money.

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“This is a historic investment in education in North Dakota, and it is important that our families, educators and other stakeholders have the opportunity to have their voices heard,” said Superintendent of State of Public Education Kirsten Baesler in a statement.

To provide additional teaching and tutoring, the Department of Public Education aims to expand summer schools and pay for online tools and educational programs to help students with reading, writing and math.

While North Dakota was at the heart of the pandemic last year, nearly all schools continued with in-person instruction. Even though much of the school year in many districts was still conducted in person, the Education Ministry said students were still educationally and emotionally affected by the pandemic.

The “most critical and widespread” issues caused by the pandemic facing North Dakota schools are COVID-19 fatigue, learning gaps and staff shortages.

The pandemic has exacerbated gaps that already existed in the education of students of color and students with special needs, the department said in its plan.

The Department of Public Education plans to partner with the Hunt Institute, an organization that works with heads of state across the country to improve education, to conduct “equity audits” in four school districts across the country. ‘State. The aim of the audits and the Hunt Institute is “to help districts understand to what extent their policies, practices and behaviors are erasing or exacerbating inequalities.”

While the Department of Education knows that many students across the state have suffered learning loss due to the pandemic, it is still trying to understand where the learning loss is greatest. By December 1, all school districts in North Dakota are to submit a report to the department that details the learning loss of students in the district and how it used federal COVID-19 relief funds to address these gaps. .

The public can provide information on how to spend the relief funds until June 7 by emailing [email protected] or by calling Laurie Matzke, the Deputy Superintendent of Public Education, at 701-328- 2284.

Readers can reach reporter Michelle Griffith, a member of the Report for America Corps, at [email protected]

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