The U.S. Department of Education highlighted Santa Fe Public Schools on Thursday during a press call to announce the Biden-Harris Administration’s American Rescue Plan “Back-to-School” checklist.
The federal law provided $130 billion to school districts and state governments to, among other things, support students’ mental health needs. Santa Fe Public Schools is using its ARP funds for mental health and wellness of both students and staff, according to a news release.
The money will also be used to expand the district’s restorative justice program, hire additional school psychologists and expand school counselor programming.
According to a U.S. Department of Education fact sheet, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other mental health associations declared a national state of emergency in children’s mental health in 2021. Estimates are that there is a ratio of one school psychologist for every 1,211 students nationally. The stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has added stress to the mental health of young people. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that more than a third of high school students reported poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ARP funds can also go toward student learning, COVID-19 health and safety and encouraging more family involvement in the schools.
“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 U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona through the release. “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.”