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The American Rescue Plan, New CDC Regulations for Schools, and Tomorrow’s Right to Read Forum

This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. On the roster this week: The American Rescue Plan, New CDC Regulations for Schools, and Tomorrow’s Right to Read Forum

Unpacking The American Rescue Plan

Earlier this month, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which will help to achieve the administration's goal of opening the majority of K-12 schools within his first 100 days. Last week, the US Department of Education announced the amount of ARP funding that each state would receive, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona promised to begin making those funds available this month. Connecticut will receive $1.1 billion for K-12 education in the state to be spent over the next two years, and our affiliate, ERN CT, has worked with our national policy team to unpack the permissible uses for these funds in a new brief this week. 90% of the K-12 funds will be subgranted to districts. Of particular note, however, are the required set-asides by both the state and local districts to address "Learning Loss." We estimate that $199M of the funds to local districts will need to be designated for Learning Loss, while the state will also need to spend over $55M on this category of relief.

Lots of great ideas have been floated on how Connecticut can spend these dollars to support schools and students. Stay tuned for next week’s edition when we present a recommendation list of how the state and school districts can realistically and effectively address academic slide due to COVID-19.

Will New CDC Guidance Help Biden Meet Reopening Goals?

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance, recommending that students who wear masks sit three feet apartas opposed to the previously recommended six feet apart. New research shows that this distance is equally as safe when everyone is masked, and a shorter amount of social distancing within the classroom will also make it easier for schools to accommodate more in-person learning.

The new guidance also removes recommendations for plastic shields or other barriers between desks. Across the country, many school districts have been using such physical barriers for in-person instruction. An interesting article from New York Magazine on Friday observed that there is very little evidence that these are effective, that these barriers might make hearing and seeing lessons during in-person learning more difficult and claustrophobic for students, and that they also lead to increased inequities between districts.

Register Now: “Right to Read CT” Forum on Dyslexia TOMORROW!

Coming off a successful public hearing last week that drew enthusiastic support from experts from across the state and excellent coverage in the Hartford Courant and NBC CT, we are still on a roll!

Mark your calendars for the 4th segment in a series by the Right to Read Coalition tomorrow, Thursday, March 25th at 5pm. In this virtual forum hosted by the Connecticut Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity & Opportunity (CWCSEO), experts in literacy and dyslexia will join Senators Patricia Billie Miller and Cathy Osten to discuss how the state can better support struggling readers. This series of forums dovetails with a legislative effort to better prepare Connecticut educators and students, based on the science of reading. Previous segments have explored how literacy is a matter of equity, CT's homegrown solution to the state's literacy crisis, and the need for a state-led response. Register today!

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