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State’s plan for using federal funds for schools approved

August 12, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Education said Thursday it has approved North Dakota’s plan to use federal coronavirus relief aid for schools.

The federal approval unlocks the remaining $101 million of the $305 million directed to North Dakota from the American Rescue Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund.

The state’s plan details how the federal money will be used to maintain safe schools and expand opportunities for students, particularly those impacted by COVID-19.

“It is heartening to see, reflected in these state plans, the ways in which states are thinking deeply about how to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities, particularly as we move into the summer and look ahead to the upcoming academic year,” federal Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The state Department of Public Instruction plans to work with the Health Department, the state teachers union and school districts to help educators learn about vaccination options.

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DPI also plans to partner with the Department of Human Services to use $7 million to offer well-resourced classrooms for 4-year-olds, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

DPI plans to blend digital and online curriculums with traditional classroom instruction as it addresses lost instructional time caused by the pandemic.

“As educators, we have worked to help our students continue learning through the COVID-19 pandemic,” State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said in a statement. “Our proposals for using education relief funds were drafted with that principle at the top of our minds.”

The U.S. Department of Education has now approved 28 state plans.