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COVID Response and Relief Planning Recommendations

ESSER graphic

As schools return to on-campus classes, local education agencies (LEAs) should assess their students’ needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic response. Specifically, LEAs should identify and address opportunity gaps that were likely widened during the pandemic, and use one-time funding to provide targeted supports to students to accelerate their learning to close those gaps. Supports may include direct services to students, professional development, curriculum materials, or maintaining infrastructure. The DPI developed the following recommendations to assist LEAs in planning how to use funds from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act) and future relief funding.


Compensatory/Recovery Services

Compensatory/recovery services/additional services for students with IEPs

Due to circumstances created by the COVD-19 public health emergency, some students with disabilities have not been able to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Their ability to make progress toward their IEP goals or the general education curriculum has been limited. This may be, for example, because some services required by their individualized education program (IEP) could not be provided, virtual services were not effective, or evaluations were delayed. For those students who were unable to receive FAPE, IEP teams must, on an individualized basis, determine what compensatory services are required in order to address the student’s lack of progress.

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act funds may be used in providing COVID-19 related compensatory education and additional services, whether it be expanding summer services, hiring additional staff, or contracting with other agencies.

Early Learners

Early learners

Early learners have experienced disruptions that may have impacted their ability to make progress toward their developmental and performance goals. Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations may be used to:

  • support substitute teachers/staff to allow educators to attend and participate in events/ongoing activities connected to the early care and education community;

  • purchase resources, such as culturally and linguistically appropriate materials (books, posters, play items), at-home learning materials/packets for families;

  • support family engagement activities (events, materials, home visits, transportation, interpreters & translation of materials);

  • support community engagement/shared learning (Strengthening 4K Community Approaches/Artist in residence, stipends for community mentors, reading buddies, etc.);

  • expand summer services and contract with community agencies (YMCA, local theaters, arts in the park, garden education, etc.) to provide summer learning opportunities.

Early learners: Professional learning

Engage in professional learning:

  • Of the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards and strategies for implementation of developmentally appropriate practices.

  • Of the Wisconsin Pyramid Model, individually, as a team, and potentially become an implementation site to support the social and emotional development of young children.

  • Offered by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Topics include Developmentally Appropriate Practice, Assessment and Screening, Culturally Appropriate Positive Guidance and more.

  • Offered by WIDA the Early Years to build capacity to support multilingual learners.

  • On early literacy instruction with CESAs to analyze a school’s early literacy program based on DPI’s Foundational Reading Skills Tool, identifying areas of strength and needed improvement across a school or district. Funds may be used to convene educators to view and interact with DPI’s Foundational Reading Skills Tool webinar series.

Expanded Learning Time

Out-of-school time (before and after school programming)

Active collaboration between the LEA and out-of-school time (OST) programs is essential to ensuring the safety and well-being of students, and LEA’s may consider using Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations to support OST programming in a variety of ways to facilitate such collaboration.

For example, funds could be used to cover the costs associated with implementing the same infection mitigation strategies employed during the school day, such as using personal protective equipment (PPE), keeping students in cohorts, and limiting the sharing of instructional materials during OST program time. Funds may also be used to address opportunity gaps or to meet students’ social and emotional, and academic needs in OST spaces.

Some examples of ways LEAs could leverage OST programs to provide extra support for students who need it include: providing OST staff with training related to social and emotional learning (SEL); hiring additional OST staff who specialize in mental health supports; providing tutoring for targeted students before or after school; offering credit recovery options during OST hours; offering engaging activities during the out-of-school time that support the development of the whole child; and supporting the implementation of innovative instructional practices that provide students with opportunities to apply academic skills in new contexts, such as project-based learning or place-based learning.

Fond du Lac School District and Boys and Girls Club of Fond du Lac Collaboration Example

The Fond du Lac School District, in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Fond du Lac, is using funds to create a new Mental Health position. Recognizing the growing need for mental health services outside of the school day, they are working together to hire a mental health professional who will serve their two Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funded after-school program locations run by the Boys & Girls Club. While working closely with day school counselors to ensure a continuum of care for students, this position will support the mental health needs of youth after school. The mental health professional will work with students one on one and in group situations, and they will also coordinate social and emotional learning programming for all after-school participants.

Family and Community Engagement

Family and community engagement

As decision makers at the school and district level determine the best path for reopening for their community, it is important to consider the following:

  • Develop processes and opportunities that center the engagement of families, caregivers, and communities central to the decision-making process. Specifically, engagement of historically underrepresented and underserved families and populations must be a focal point to this engagement work, requiring extended outreach - going beyond the usual survey or “usual” families that are frequently contacted. Strategies such as personally calling each parent or caregiver in the school welcoming them back, conducting home or community visits (find a mutually agreeable location) for caregivers and families to meet with educators in anticipation of in-person instruction, or virtual outreach meetings with the details of the in-person return procedures are recommended. Additional examples of intentional community engagement strategies include:

    • Welcome Back Night events

    • Virtual focus groups with caregivers

    • Online polling tools to gather the opinion and preferences of families and caregivers

    • Tap caregivers as instructional partner training sessions, to allow for greater support of students returning to rigor of in-person instruction. The sessions will invite caregivers to serve as equal partners in the instructional process of children in a welcoming matter

    • School leaders are encouraged to develop caregiver resource groups (CRGs). The CRGs must focus on engaging normally underserved and underrepresented populations in school systems. The resource groups should mirror the logic model utilized for the development of employee resource groups.

  • Provide professional development for educators to welcome back students to in-person learning including:

    • Social-emotional learning training

    • How to facilitate home and community visits training

    • Racial equity training

  • Provide support to empower educators to revisit classroom culture-building strategies typically used at the beginning of the school year upon the re-entry of students. Ensure that educators have permission to make the social-emotional learning aspect of their instruction paramount to the re-entry for students.

  • Address post-COVID-19 structural inequities that were highlighted (including legacy systems that prevented the social, emotional, and academic growth) during the virtual learning period to ensure educational equity is central to the work to reopening.

  • Adopt an opportunity-centered teaching approach (H. Richard Milner Education Week, October 22, 2020) placing opportunity at the core of a classroom where teachers, students, parents, families, and communities recognize students’ diverse and dynamic assets, involving designing instructional practices to hook students into content that connects with core aspects of their identities, such as their race, gender, and language.

Families and Schools Together at Home Program Example

The FAST (Families and Schools Together) program is a parent engagement program that supports the family bonding necessary for children to thrive. By applying research and evidence-based family therapy practices, this program promotes the full potential of every child. Schools can use their Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations towards the new FAST at Home program. More information can be found on the FAST website.

Food and Nutrition Services

Food and nutrition services

Due to COVID-19, the number of school meals served this school year has drastically decreased when compared to previous school years, resulting in significant revenue deficits and many programs operating in the red. However, the importance of feeding students has never been more vital than during this pandemic.

Although schools have benefited greatly from the USDA donated foods they are receiving, schools are incurring unanticipated increased storage and inventory control costs, increased food costs, PPE costs, additional equipment costs, and supply and packaging costs associated with how meal service is occurring based on the school learning model. Many of the other fixed costs like labor have remained the same even though the number of meals served has fallen.

Consider using Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations to help alleviate all or a portion of these costs incurred by the school food service department and consider modifying your food service plan based on the needs of the community you serve. Examples of allowable costs for school food service include:

  • Food

  • Labor

  • Meal delivery

  • Equipment

  • Supplies, including PPE

  • Food safety inspection costs

  • Food distribution and storage costs (USDA Foods)

More information about allowable costs can be found in the Q&A.

Gifted and Talented Learners

Gifted and talented learners

Gifted and talented learners have experienced disrupted learning due to shifts in learning environments, staffing, access to technology, access to coursework, access to direct services, and being identified, potentially impacting their opportunity to make progress toward their individualized learning plans. Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations may be used to expand summer services, purchase resources, engage in professional learning, hire additional staff, or contract with other agencies. Areas to prioritize may include the following:

  • Review and select targeted screeners for the identification of gifted and/or talented students, recognizing that multiple indicators will improve the accuracy of identification.

  • Build staff’s capacity in providing advanced placement courses for historically underserved students, especially in the AP Capstone Diploma Program (AP Research and AP Seminar) and AP Computer Science Principles. These are gap-closing areas, especially for historically underserved students, including females, Black, Hispanic, and first-generation college students.

High-Quality Instructional Materials in Literacy, English Language Arts, and Math

High-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations may be used to contract with regional CESAs to engage in the process of selecting or adopting high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials in English language arts (ELA) or math. Funds may be used to purchase high-quality, verifiably standards-aligned instructional materials in ELA and mathematics to accelerate student learning.

EdReports is the national tool used to determine whether instructional materials are verifiably aligned to academic standards. Many of these instructional materials currently come with supplements or modifications made by publishers to respond to current student needs.

School District Exemplar for Implementing High-Quality, Standards-Aligned Instructional Materials

The Hayward Community School District, unhappy with stagnant ELA student achievement and student subgroup gaps at the middle school level, engaged in a review of their instructional materials and found that they were not actually aligned to academic standards. They selected a verifiably standards-aligned ELA curriculum and began piloting that curriculum in two classrooms. After one unit of instruction in the pilot classrooms, student achievement on their district interim assessment increased by 16 percentage points, with larger increases among student subgroups and reported higher levels of engagement in ELA courses from both teachers and students. This resulted in those teachers not involved in the pilot asking for permission to cease using the district-created curriculum and begin using the new curriculum. The curriculum Hayward adopted includes access to free, online professional learning modules, and the publisher focused these modules on how to use the curriculum in remote or hybrid learning environments during the pandemic, clearly identifying which parts of the curriculum could be cut and which should be emphasized to achieve grade-level learning outcomes during the pandemic.

Professional learning on high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental funds may be used to:

  • Contract with a high-quality provider of material-focused professional learning in ELA or math as determined by Rivet Education.

  • Contract with CESAs or other state organizations to support the effective implementation of high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials.

  • Allow teachers to observe classrooms where teachers effectively use instructional materials, including the time to debrief what they observed.

  • Convene educators to implement standards-aligned instructional materials in ways that respond to each student’s needs and accelerate student progress towards achieving proficiency in grade-level standards as outlined in the Instruction Partners research-based guide to curriculum implementation. Possible tasks include:

    • Engaging educators in a unit or lesson study to identify content knowledge needed to facilitate grade-level instruction in an upcoming unit or lesson

    • Engaging educators in a unit or lesson study to identify access points for each learner in an upcoming unit or lesson

    • Engaging educators in a unit or lesson study to identify ways to strengthen an upcoming unit or lesson to be more culturally responsive to their students

    • Engaging educators in a unit or lesson study to identify ways to scaffold each learner up to grade-level in an upcoming lesson or unit of instruction

School District Exemplar for Materials-Focused Professional Learning

When the Kenosha Unified School District adopted new, verifiably standards-aligned instructional materials in elementary mathematics, they contracted with the Math Learning Center to provide “getting started” professional learning opportunities multiple times in the summer prior to the implementation of the new curriculum and paid teachers to attend. Administrators realized that this curriculum required a significant shift in the way teachers would be teaching math and created systems and structures to support teachers in understanding how to effectively implement the new instructional materials, such as monthly professional learning time for grade-level teachers to preview upcoming units of instruction, identify the mathematics knowledge needed to provide instruction, identify and practice the instructional practices teachers would be utilizing in the upcoming unit, and to provide a safe space for teachers to ask questions and check assumptions.

The Kenosha Unified School District also recognized the need to build the capacity and understanding among their building leaders to support teachers in effective implementation. To accomplish this, they contracted with the Mathematics Institute of Wisconsin to provide professional learning to administrator teams made up of building principals, instructional coaches, and classroom teachers. This was a four-part professional learning series for building leaders to more deeply understand the math instructional practices teachers would be required to utilize as part of the new curriculum and culturally responsive teaching practices that could be utilized to achieve grade-level proficiency of each student.

Interim and Formative Assessments

Interim and formative assessments

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations may be used to support the use of several DPI resources and professional development opportunities around strategic assessment, data use, and data literacy to fuel the continuous improvement process.

A Strategic Assessment System includes formative, interim, and summative assessments as a measure of student learning. The purposeful alignment of these assessments plays a key role in the data inquiry process. Assessments should be culturally responsive to ensure every student has access to content and can accurately demonstrate what they know and are able to do. Strategic assessment systems that emphasize formative practices are a proven driver of improved student outcomes and successful continuous improvement processes.

Mental Health Services

Mental health services

Child and adolescent anxiety and depression were high and rising before the pandemic and seem to have deepened during this time. Schools can provide an enormous service to their students simply by demonstrating patience and encouragement towards disrupted learners and emphasizing relationships, outreach and inclusion to help guide young people through this difficult time as part of a safe, strong, and resilient school community. Schools that find ways to acknowledge and support student (and staff) experiences with grief and loss, medical trauma, parental job loss, or other family crises during this time can further help the most directly affected students to effectively process their experiences and more deeply engage with their schooling. While basic, schoolwide interventions will likely be sufficient for most students, it is also important to have pathways to therapeutic and crisis services for youth who need them. Some activities utilizing Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental funds include:

  • Professional development: Training staff in Trauma Sensitive Schools (TSS), Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), mental health literacy, and comprehensive school mental health systems development; Training for parents on how to support their child’s mental health; Training staff in culturally and linguistically responsive practices, including examining their comprehensive school mental health system for bias, equity of access, and outcomes

  • Purchasing: Evidence-based SEL, Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) and mental health-related curriculum; Purchasing technology such as iPads for telehealth appointments; Purchasing materials for calm down spaces for students and adults, virtual and physical spaces; Books related to SEL, TSS, and Mental Health for adult book study; Trade books that feature social and emotional learning and mental health and wellness for students. (we have book lists available); Providing students with evidenced-based suicide prevention curricula

  • Staffing: paying for staff for planning a comprehensive school-based mental health system, including a clear and effective referral pathway process; Providing staff supports through the Compassion Resilience Toolkit

  • Direct Services to Family and Students: Focus groups of students and families to identify their mental health need; Peer-to-peer anti-suicide and anti-stigma groups; Creating crisis response teams and training staff in best practice; Mental health navigation; Student Family Assistance Program; Paying for transportation to therapy appointments

Multilingual Learners

Multilingual learners

Multilingual learners have experienced disrupted learning due to shifts in learning environments, staffing, access to technology, access to coursework, access to direct services, and access to language assessment/monitoring. This may have impacted their ability to make progress toward their language development goals or the general education curriculum. Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental funds may be used to expand summer services, purchasing resources, engaging in professional learning, hiring additional staff, or contracting with other agencies. Areas to prioritize include the following:

  • Improve content and language learning outcomes through language attentive learning environments.

  • Increase opportunity for translation (written communications) services to strengthen the home and school partnership.

  • Use a research-based digital platform to improve language proficiency gains for ESL, bilingual, and world language learners. A digital portfolio engages learners in self-directed goal setting, collection of evidence, and reflection on progress with language learning.

  • Improve oral/aural language development through customized speaking and listening tasks and feedback.

Opportunity Gap Closure for Specific Student Groups

Opportunity gap closure for specific student groups

The greatest demonstration of true commitment to educational equity is ensuring that every student has access to an effective educator. COVID 19 has compounded the limited access and lack of opportunities afforded to students of color and students with IEPs Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental funds provide the flexibility needed to invest in support for effective educator practice, social-emotional supports, and authentic student and family/caregiver collaboration.

Evidence supports that upon the reentry of students in schools for in-person instruction, it is essential that school leaders and district leaders focus their professional time on supporting educators to become more effective in the classroom, taking the necessary time to support student and educator social and emotional needs. The transition back to in-person instruction will require a deep reliance on interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence from all stakeholders in the school environment; therefore, reestablishing relationships and seeking first to understand the needs of students and families/caregivers to develop academic and social-emotional goals must be the initial work upon reentry.

Supporting educator practice by focusing on the use of high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials, as opposed to disconnected remediation programs, will help ensure all students, and particularly students who have fallen behind, get access to grade-level instruction with scaffolds and supports (see “High-Quality Instructional Materials” above).

Reduce the Digital Gap

Provide Internet access for students where they live

Ensure equity of Internet access by purchasing hotspots, hardwired, and/or other Internet-enabled devices for students where they live through the Digital Learning Bridge. These statewide contracts provide significant discounts.

  • Explore the matrix of services that compare costs across Internet service providers, as well as a map of each district highlighting which providers service that area of the district.

  • Contact: Jane Wynn: jane.wynn@cesapurchasing.org

Purchase and/or renew educational software

Access discounted software contracts that can also be used for renewals. These statewide contracts are with vendors who provide commonly used educational applications and can be found also through the Digital Learning Bridge.

  • For example, if you purchase Zoom directly from the company the cost is approximately $50 a license. If you purchase through the state contract the rate is $7.50 a license. Additionally, if you use Appendix E from the Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC) the language is in place to protect student data.

  • Contact: Jane Wynn: jane.wynn@cesapurchasing.org

Upgrade and provide computing hardware for students and staff

Access statewide discounted hardware contracts which are also available through the Digital Learning Bridge. These contracts include accountability provisions and support if there are challenges with a particular vendor. This includes contracts for Chromebooks with realistic and honest timelines for receiving the needed equipment.

Upgrade infrastructure to support in-person, virtual, and blended learning options

Use funds to upgrade or grow infrastructure to support the learning needs for all environments. Examples include:

  • New switches to improve speeds between buildings,

  • Updating other hardware to get internet from the buildings to where students live or to parking lots for those who need a place to work/access the internet, and

  • Enhance hybrid learning environments through cameras, microphones, and other equipment.

  • Examine and invest in streamlining technology infrastructure through interoperability, reducing the time and administrative tasks involved in providing myriad education services for students and families.
  • Contact: Rachel Schemelin: Rachel.schemelin@dpi.wi.gov

Continue to support and expand cyber security plans and capacity

It is more important than ever to secure the virtual environment and data. Educational organizations are one of the major targets for ransomware and the costs of an incident both in time and recovery are high. Funds can be used to purchase hardware, software, and training.

  • No cost resources:

    • DPI provides a statewide membership to the Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC). Use the contract template or Appendix E for all software applications.

    • Review The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) resources.

    • Follow the Center for Internet Securities Controls & Resources to verify you are meeting the basic standards for security.

  • Cost-based examples:

    • Next-generation firewall tools

    • Filtering software

    • Cyber security training materials

    • The state contract number for Vendornet is 505004-MSA-SECUREIQTRN-01.

Contacts: Annette Smith: Annette.smith@dpi.wi.gov and Ed Snow: edward.snow@dpi.wi.gov

Digital learning

Funds may provide training for educators in online, remote, and blended learning, and digital content options for remediation and learning loss, while considering costs like substitute time, teacher stipends, and professional learning points on a salary scale. Schools may consider local and state (CESA, SLATE, WEMTA, Institute for Personalized Learning, WDLC, ISTE Digital Literacy Certification) and national (ISTE, ASCD, Digital Learning Conference) offerings to increase the capacity of educator leaders in digital literacy learning.

Methods for integration of the Information and Technology Literacy Standards, digital online safety and training, computer science teacher training, and district planning are also viable options for increasing capacity strengthening outcomes.

Explore and Embed Technology Systemwide

Transferring information safely and securely within education systems to make use of data and information more efficient and equitable can save time and accelerate learning.

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act funds can be used to examine and invest in streamlining technology infrastructure through interoperability, reducing the time and administrative tasks involved in providing myriad education services for students and families.

Additionally, please work in collaboration with county or city organizations, local businesses, or public libraries receiving these federal funds to address long-term solutions to broadband inequities. These collaborations for broadband infrastructure projects will provide some of the most important methods to provide high-quality, affordable broadband solutions.

School Environment Safety

School environment safety

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations may be used for school facility repairs and improvements to decrease the risk of virus airborne transmission (inspecting, testing, repairing upgrading mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification, and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement).

Upgrading or replacing drinking fountains with water bottle filling stations; purchasing supplies to sanitize, disinfect, and clean school facilities; training and professional development for staff on sanitization; training on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the purchase of PPE; the purchase or creation of physical barriers to facilitate physical distancing; and expanding capacity to administer coronavirus testing are additional options for the use of the funds.

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) and air filtration

HVAC upgrades to improve air quality and filtration are allowed for ESSER II funding. Districts should be conscientious and deliberate about identifying HVAC improvements, ensuring that any work supported with federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental funds can be justified as a necessary health and safety expense for providing in-person instruction. A best practice is to consider HVAC within an overall health and safety response plan.

Example: Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD)

As part of the KUSD planning process for reopening schools, KUSD evaluated the CDC/ASHRAE recommendation and replaced their Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 8 filters with MERV 11 filters around May/June of 2020, based on filter availability and concerns that the increased filtration level may create a pressure drop that would reduce airflow to unacceptable levels, especially when the filters were at the end of their useful life.

In September and October, KUSD brought in a third-party engineer and HVAC testing and balancing contractor to test air flows in representative classrooms at 10 schools representing the district’s ventilation systems’ various types and ages. They were tested with the used MERV 11 filters as well as with either new MERV 11 filters or new MERV 13 filters (if they were available from their filter supplier). In addition, the engineer’s environmental crew took classroom carbon dioxide (CO2) readings in every classroom as a further measure of maintaining acceptable air flow rates and air quality as part of the evaluation.

As a result of that study, the third-party engineer advised that KUSD could transition to MERV 13 filters at every school in the district except one, where they kept MERV 11 filters because the entire school is served by rooftop units that are more susceptible to a coil freeze in extreme weather if there is a reduction in the airflow past the coil.

School Libraries

Expanding Library Hours

School library programs have been essential throughout the pandemic, providing devices to connect students to the internet, as well as technical support for students, staff, and families. Library media specialists have been valuable collaborators with classroom teachers and have ensured access to a wide variety of print and digital resources. Wisconsin library programs are strongly supported by the Common School Fund (CSF); however, funding additional library services beyond CSF parameters plays a central role in re-engaging students by creating a supportive, inclusive environment, supporting social, emotional, and academic needs. The American Library Association’s document, The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Historic Opportunities for School Libraries & School Librarians, highlights the benefits of expanding library hours.

With extended hours, school libraries can benefit students and families by providing additional resources for literacy, access to technology, and a supportive environment for inquiry and research. Funding used for staffing school libraries during extended hours helps mitigate learning loss by providing a safe, supportive, and effective environment for student growth. Additional availability of school librarians also allows for more collaborative opportunities with other content area teachers, building better instruction and more diverse opportunities for student learning.

Summer Programming

School library programs have been essential throughout the pandemic, providing devices to connect students to the internet, as well as technical support for students, staff, and families. Library media specialists have been valuable collaborators with classroom teachers and have ensured access to a wide variety of print and digital resources. Wisconsin library programs are strongly supported by the Common School Fund (CSF); however, funding additional library services beyond CSF parameters plays a central role in re-engaging students by creating a supportive, inclusive environment, supporting social, emotional, and academic needs. The American Library Association’s document, The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Historic Opportunities for School Libraries & School Librarians, highlights the benefits of summer programming.

Access to the school library and summer library programming can be done in partnership with public libraries to address learning loss and cultivate excitement about literacy. Having both school and public libraries serving students and families provides multiple opportunities for families to access resources during summer months. If school districts offer summer classes, opening the school library will support these efforts.

Funding used to staff school libraries during the summer can build community relationships through collaboration with public libraries, provide students with additional support for their growth in literacy and technology, and equip teachers with an additional partner for instruction and resources.

Library Spaces

School library programs have been essential throughout the pandemic, providing devices to connect students to the internet, as well as technical support for students, staff, and families. Library media specialists have been valuable collaborators with classroom teachers and have ensured access to a wide variety of print and digital resources. Wisconsin library programs are strongly supported by the Common School Fund (CSF); however, funding additional library services beyond CSF parameters plays a central role in re-engaging students by creating a supportive, inclusive environment, supporting social, emotional, and academic needs. The American Library Association’s document, The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Historic Opportunities for School Libraries & School Librarians, highlights the benefits of library spaces.

As a center of learning, the school library provides a unique space for collaboration, access to technology, a diverse collection of books and resources, and the opportunity for all students to feel included. Funding can be used to reconfigure spaces, creating optimal learning environments with updated furnishings that are flexible and easy to clean. Incorporating UDL Guidelines when using funding for school libraries will produce safe, equitable, and inclusive learning spaces.

Summer Session/Summer Semester

Summer session/summer semester

Summer provides a great opportunity to re-engage students, particularly those who have not been served as well with virtual, remote, or socially distanced learning. Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental funds may be used to address learning loss with summer school. Expanded learning options for students will also increase a district’s summer school membership used for calculating revenue limits and general school aids.

Existing state law on summer school funding, based upon FTE calculated from total minutes of instruction, remains in place. In-person summer school is counted as before COVID-19, and the virtual option to count minutes for students in grades 7-12 who complete credit-bearing classes is available.

DPI has proposed a rule to make permanent the temporary flexibility allowed in summer 2020 on counting virtual non-credit minutes for all grades. The rule process is expected to go into mid-summer, but as long as it takes effect in time to determine district revenue limits in October, it will be applied for all virtual non-credit instruction in summer 2021.

Transportation

Transportation

Costs to transport students safely during the pandemic, above and beyond the transportation program your district is otherwise legally obligated to provide, are allowed for Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental funds. These can include:

  • Additional bus routes to accommodate social distancing

  • Installation of dividers or other social distancing hardware

  • PPE for drivers, staff, or students

  • Reimbursement of parents for students the district would otherwise be required to transport

These are added costs on top of the base required level of transportation. For example:

  • If you add social distancing hardware to all your buses, the cost is allowed whether or not any given bus runs its regular route.

  • If you would ordinarily run one bus for private school students but have to add a second for social distancing, the second bus’s cost is allowed.

  • If you normally provide an IEP-required service on-site but have to transport a student off-site because buildings are closed, the transportation cost is allowed.

The proration of Pupil Transportation Aid payments by whether a student was transported more or less than half the school year was repealed a few years ago. If your district transports a student at least once this year, they can be counted in the appropriate mileage category and aided in full (provided, as usual, that they aren’t transported separately under their IEP).

Well-Rounded Education

Civics and history

All learners have experienced disrupted learning due to shifts in learning environments, staffing, and access to technology. Due to this, many districts across Wisconsin made the choice to narrow their course offerings for the 2020-21 school year. Therefore, districts may want to invest in expanding well-rounded learning opportunities for all students. Funding may be used to expand summer services, purchasing resources, engage in professional learning, and hire additional staff. For civics and history:

  • Provide opportunities for educators to deepen their understanding of how to teach the history of a pluralistic society.

  • Purchase anti-bias resources that provide windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors for students to see themselves and see their greater communities. For ideas, look into the Multicultural and social justice book lists and the DPI American Indian Bibliographies for Grade Levels.

Environmental education

All learners have experienced disrupted learning due to shifts in learning environments, staffing, and access to technology. Due to this, many districts across Wisconsin made the choice to narrow their course offerings for the 2020-21 school year. Therefore, districts may want to invest in expanding well-rounded learning opportunities for all students. Funding may be used to expand summer services, purchasing resources, engage in professional learning, and hire additional staff. For environmental education:

  • Use the outdoors to provide increased space for physical distancing and to support teachers and students’ physical and mental health. Access to the outdoor spaces and activities that integrate social and emotional learning, mindfulness, and nature can help manage the extra stress and hardships caused by COVID-19. Refer to the "Learning Landscape" in DPI’s Taking Education Outdoors Toolkit.
  • Prepare outdoor learning spaces: consider equipping these spaces with flexible seating, shade, teaching tools like portable whiteboards, and defined boundaries. Provide student explorer backpacks with needed tools for outdoor learning (e.g., a clipboard, nature journal, colored pencils, waterproof sit-upon). Refer to the "Learning Landscape" in DPI’s Taking Education Outdoors Toolkit.
  • Provide scientific tools for outdoor learning such as basic scientific/observation equipment (e.g., magnifiers, weather stations, to-go activities, and/or some specific equipment to explore your near nature, like D nets, water quality monitoring, thermometers, maps). Provide tools for indoor inquiry-based environmental learning, such as those for energy education. Refer to the "Compiled Resources" in DPI's Taking Education Outdoors Toolkit.
  • Attend professional learning on how to use environmental education for engaged learning or for out-of-school time staff; find opportunities on DPI's Environmental Education Professional Learning calendar or explore ideas and resources in "Instructional Programming" in DPI's Taking Education Outdoors Toolkit.
  • Connect with a FIELD Coach to support teachers through co-planning and co-teaching lessons. Contract with your local nature center to support outdoor education. Refer to the "Out of School and Other Programming" in DPI’s Taking Education Outdoors Toolkit.
Global education

All learners have experienced disrupted learning due to shifts in learning environments, staffing, and access to technology. Due to this, many districts across Wisconsin made the choice to narrow their course offerings for the 2020-21 school year. Therefore, districts may want to invest in expanding well-rounded learning opportunities for all students. Funding may be used to expand summer services, purchasing resources, engage in professional learning, and hire additional staff. For global education:

  • Deepen understanding of what Global Competence means for all learners.

  • Use a research-based digital platform to improve language proficiency gains for ESL, bilingual, and world language learners. A digital portfolio engages learners in self-directed goal setting, collection of evidence, and reflection on progress with language learning.

  • Improve global learning, perspectives, relationships, and civic engagement through the exploration of global issues with international peers.

  • Improve engagement, relevance, and global learning by bringing the world into the learning environment through visual images, virtual tours, and multimedia experiences.

STEM

All learners have experienced disrupted learning due to shifts in learning environments, staffing, and access to technology. Due to this, many districts across Wisconsin made the choice to narrow their course offerings for the 2020-21 school year. Therefore, districts may want to invest in expanding well-rounded learning opportunities for all students. Funding may be used to expand summer services, purchasing resources, engage in professional learning, and hire additional staff. For STEM:

  • Engage students at all levels in better understanding the science of COVID-19, how it affects their communities, and how the impacts are not equitable.

  • Support teacher learning and all students making the lives of all students visible and connecting learning to them; becoming aware of the dynamics of racism in learning, and defining what social justice means for learning.

  • Deepen understanding of equity and access in STEM.