In 2021, the NWLSD received an additional $24,100,642.21 in ARP ESSER funds. The top priorities for the district are a safe return to in-person learning and supporting the academic, social and emotional needs of students and educators. The following questions outline the NWLSD plan for using ARP ESSER funds:
1. How will ARP ESSER funds be used to implement prevention and mitigation strategies that are, to the greatest extent practicable, consistent with the most recent CDC guidance on reopening schools, in order to continuously and safely open and operate schools for in-person learning?
ARP ESSER funds will be used to continue to fund additional nursing staff to be available for student screening and isolation when needed. These staff members will also be used when available to provide support to students and staff in implementing healthy practices. Funding will also continue to support additional custodians needed to continue implementing increased cleaning that is needed to keep schools open for in-person learning. Materials and equipment needed will include cleaning supplies, masks, shields, plexiglass dividers, soaps and hand sanitizer, and hand washing stations. In addition, supplies deemed necessary to increase social distancing, limit the spread of germs, and/or increase the safety of students and staff will be purchased.
2. How will the LEA use the funds it reserves under section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act to address the academic impact of lost instructional time through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive after school programs, or extended school year?
The NWLSD will utilize ARP ESSER funds to provide additional summer and extended learning opportunities K-12 in the district over the next 2-3 years. These opportunities include a variety of offerings including reading, math, STEM, credit recovery, music, health and PE. While these offerings are designed to address the impact of lost instructional time, they also are focused on keeping our students engaged and motivated to learn during this difficult time. High school offerings will be targeted to the increased number of students who are credit deficient as a result of lost instructional time. We are using ESSER funds to partner with our ESC to implement a coaching model by hiring instructional, assessment, intervention and data coaches to support our PreK-12 teachers over the next two years. By making this job-embedded professional development a priority, these funds can provide a lasting impact for our teachers and students. We must increase the use of formative assessments to determine each student’s current levels of performance and instructional needs. These coaches will work collaboratively with instructional staff and administrators to improve instruction in core areas, increase the use of data to inform instruction, and develop aligned formative assessments designed to inform instruction. Finally, funds will be allocated to support additional staff to implement evidenced based intervention programs. The district anticipates an increased need for these supports to support learners who will demonstrate learning loss as a result of the pandemic.
3. How will the LEA spend its remaining ARP ESSER funds consistent with section 2001(e)(2) of the ARP Act?
The remaining funds will be spent on activities and programs that focus on identifying the needs of our students as they return fully to the classroom environment. We are committed to ensuring that our students and teachers have the support and resources available to make this transition back to the classroom as successful as possible. We know that many of our students and families will return to the classroom with increased social/emotional needs. We will increase the number of teachers and assistants available in each elementary in order to increase student access to adults. We are hiring additional Counselors and Deans K-12 to be available to support students with behavioral interventions with a focus on keeping kids in the classroom. In addition to staff, these funds will support the purchase and implementation of an evidenced based social/emotional curriculum K-12. While it our goal to provide in-person instruction for all students, through multiple surveys and communications with parents, it is evident from the feedback that at the current time and in the current environment, a online option is needed to support the needs of a small portion of our school population at minimum through the 21-22 school year. The district will use ARP ESSER funds to support this online option for qualifying students. A transportation supervisor will be funded for 1 year to assist in the implementation of new routing software that will allow routes to be adjusted efficiently and safely in the event of future school closures.
4. How will the LEA ensure that the interventions it implements, including but not limited to the interventions implemented under section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act to address the academic impact of lost instructional time, will respond to the academic, social, emotional and mental health needs of all students, and particularly those students disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including students from low-income families, students of color, English learners, children with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, children in foster care and migratory students.
As the district planned for summer intervention, care was taken to ensure that those students who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic received individual invitations to participate in programs and that appropriate supports were put in place to ensure that they had access to the programs. This included using translation services to contact parents who do not speak English and the provisions of meals, transportation and nursing services as needed. Through a comprehensive needs assessment and strategic planning process the NWLSD has identified that in order to close achievement gaps, we must first address engagement and rigor of our Core programs in addition to addressing the individual needs of struggling students. Our plan has funds allocated to job embedded professional development models (coaching and consultation) that will equip our teachers and leaders with the skills needed to address the needs of our neediest students and challenge our high performing students. Safety nets will be needed for and will be provided for those students disproportionately affected by the COVID 19 pandemic through the addition of staff including counselors, deans, instructional assistants, intervention specialists and TESOL teachers.
5. Briefly describe the extent to which the LEA intends to use ARP ESSER funds to promote remote learning.
Through the needs assessment process, the NWLSD identified a continuing need for alternate educational options for a small number of students. Surveys were conducted and enrollment in a blended option or online school were offered. Applicants were screened and selected based on criteria that the district believes will ensure success for enrolled students. The district will utilize ARP ESSER funds to pay an administrator and teachers to run an online learning option for two years. In addition, funds will be used to support district licenses to resources and applications that will enable teachers and students to continue teaching and learning in the case of quarantines or long term closures.
6. Describe the LEA’s plan for addressing learning loss by: administering and using high-quality assessments to assess students’ academic progress and meet students’ academic needs, including through differentiating instruction; implementing evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students; providing information and assistance to parents and families on how they can effectively support students, including in a distance learning environment; and/or tracking student attendance and improving student engagement in distance education.
The district currently utilizes formative assessments at all levels. ARP ESSER funds will be used to supplement these assessments where needed. The district is currently adding MAP Fluency assessments to obtain more information about our early readers. Instructional and data coaches will be utilized to assist teachers in effectively using this data to make instructional changes including differentiating instruction and implementing evidence based strategies. The development of Northwest Online which will operate as a collaborative team of teachers, is designed to improve the district's ability to monitor the attendance/engagement of students in remote learning and offer a high quality alternative to in-person learning.
7. Describe the uses of funds for developing strategies and implementing public health protocols including, to the greatest extent practicable, policies in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain the health and safety of students, educators and other staff.
The district will use ARP ESSER funds to continue to employ additional custodial staff and nursing staff to implement protocols in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain the health and safety of students, educators and other staff. Contact tracing and quarantine notifications will require extra staff. The district will also continue to purchase cleaning supplies and face coverings to be in alignment with CDC guidelines. Policies and procedures have been developed and are being updated regularly based on data obtained from our County Health Department and using recommendations from the CDC.
8. Describe how ARP ESSER Funds have been/will be used for other activities for maintaining the operations and continuity of services in the LEA and continuing to employ existing staff of the LEA.
ARP ESSER funds will be used to allow custodians slated for reduction to continue to be employed as they are needed to maintain safe building conditions. The district will also employ additional nurse/health staff to assist in identifying, isolating and providing communication/support to students, staff and families who are exposed to COVID-19.
9. What is the breakdown of how NWLSD has allocated COVID Relief funds to each of the allowable activities?
The following charts provide an overview of how the various COVID Relief funds awarded to the NWLSD have been allocated: