Mississippi is among 15 states that are being recognized for efforts in utilizing ARPA funds.

The U.S. Department of Education released what it is calling the Biden-Harris Administration’s American Rescue Plan “Back to School” checklist, saying that it will help parents, caregivers, and families engage with local school and district leaders about how they are supporting students as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

Thursday morning, the White House held a press call to discuss the checklist which recognizes 15 promising examples of how states and school districts across the country are already using federal ARPA funds to support students and to staff schools.

The checklist is broken into four categories:

  • Student learning
  • Addressing the needs of the whole child
  • COVID-19 health and safety
  • Engaging families

Mississippi is among the 15 states being recognized for efforts with utilizing ARPA funds.

The Mississippi Department of Education is acknowledged for using more than $17 million in ARPA funds to provide on-demand health care and expand access to care during school hours.

In partnership with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, school nurses in four districts—Pearl, McComb, Quitman, and Yazoo Counties—have been trained to use telehealth technology and are helping provide telehealth services, including mental health, urgent care, and specialty care. By November 1, 2022, the state plans to bring telehealth services to 30 additional school districts.

Participants in Thursday’s White House Regional Press call included: First Lady Jill Biden; U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona; Gene Sperling, Senior Advisor to the President and American Rescue Plan Coordinator; Congresswoman Kathy Manning (NC-06); Dr. Whitney Oakley, Superintendent for Guilford County Schools (GCS); and Hilario “Larry” Chavez, Superintendent for Santa Fe Public Schools (NM).

Gene Sperling, Senior Advisor to the President and American Rescue Plan Coordinator, said that in total the American Rescue Plan provided up to $130 billion for schools serving K-12 students.

First Lady Jill Biden said that the nation has come so far from March 2020 and that she has seen first hand how states, communities, and districts are using the funds the Biden-Administration provided to expand academic opportunities.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” First Lady Biden continued. “Parents are their childrens’ first teachers and they know what their children need better than anyone. With the right support, there is no more powerful advocate for our students.” 

Biden stated that is why the Department of Education has released a back-to-school checklist to help parents talk to their school leaders about how American Rescue Plan Funds are helping their child recover.

U.S. Education Secretary Cardona joined Thursday’s press call with White House officials, members of Congress, and local educators whose districts are among those being featured in order to encourage parents and families to use this checklist and discuss how they say ARPA is providing unprecedented resources for a successful and safe school year.

“A new school year brings new beginnings, and today I am encouraging schools and families to reach a new level of communication and transparency to make sure our students and educators are getting the supports they need,” said Secretary Miguel Cardona. “The checklist offers a starting point for parents, caregivers, and families to have meaningful discussions with school leaders about how they are supporting students, including with American Rescue Plan funds. The checklist can kickstart conversations about the services and supports that children can benefit from in this new academic year and beyond.”