Appendix B

Prince William County Public Schools

LEA ARP ESSER Plan

Section 1: Introduction

The purpose of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Fund is to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impacts of COVID-19 on the nation’s students by addressing students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. Prince William County Public Schools has been awarded $87.9 million in ESSER III funds. This plan describes how the awarded funds will be used. Questions about this plan should be directed to John Wallingford, Associate Superintendent for Finance and Risk Management at WallingJ@pwcs.edu, or Rita Goss, Associate Superintendent for Student and Professional Learning at GossRE@pwcs.edu

Prince William County Public Schools has a comprehensive plan for addressing students’ academic, social-emotional and mental health needs while safely reopening and sustaining mitigation and safety measures related to COVID-19. This ESSER III funding will support human and material resources to address unfinished learning, professional learning for professional educators and instructional leaders, social-emotional supports, and mental health healing professionals and resources, resources for Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommended ongoing health mitigation measures, and student transportation.

Section 2: Prevention and Mitigation Strategies

ARP Act ESSER III funds may be used to implement prevention and mitigation strategies that are, to the greatest extent practicable, consistent with the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on reopening schools, in order to continuously and safely open and operate schools for in-person learning. Prince William County Public Schools will use approximately 13 percent of its ARP Act ESSER III funds to implement prevention and mitigation strategies as described below.

Prince William County Public Schools employs the following layered mitigation strategies to maintain the health and safety of its staff, students, and visitors.

  1. Universal and correct wearing of masks.
  2. Allow for physical distancing.
    • Facilities modification
    • Additional buses
  3. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette.
    • Hand sanitizer stands
    • Paper towel dispensers
  4. Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation with Air Purifiers and filters.
  5. Contract tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments.
  6. Diagnostic and screening testing.
  7. Efforts to provide vaccinations to school communities.
  8. Coordination with State and Local health officials

Details of PWCS' mitigation strategy are available here.

Section 3: Addressing Unfinished Learning

Section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act requires each LEA to use twenty percent of its formula funds to address the academic impact of lost instructional time (learning loss) through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs. Prince William County Public Schools will use approximately 56 percent of its ARP Act ESSER III funds to address unfinished learning as described below.

PWCS has developed a comprehensive plan that will utilize approximately 56% of the PWCS formula funds to address learning loss/unfinished learning or nearly $49 million of the total amount available to PWCS. The plan includes key commitments and identified research-based best practices that are all focused on recovery, acceleration, and re-engagement. The following is the link to the summary comprehensive PWCS Unfinished Learning Plan that was publicly posted prior to August 1, 2021.

The ARPA funding for addressing unfinished learning will be spent on the following overall resource, service, and support areas:

  1. Additional human resources to support academics and mental health needs to include high dosage tutoring, extended/expanded learning time, healing engagement support, and family re-engagement support.
  2. Additional materials, learning resources, and common assessments that support the rigorous, accelerated, and aligned standards-based learning in the identified academic areas of mathematics, early literacy, English language arts, science, academic and social language development for English Learners, as well as social-emotional learning.
  3. Specific professional learning on research-based best practices in support of students overcoming mental wellness barriers and accelerating academic learning.

Given the research that highlights the disparities of COVID-19 and its impact on our most vulnerable learners and student populations, PWCS designed a resource allocation Priority Index and process to equitably provide additional resources, supports, and services to meet or exceed the specific academic and social-emotional needs of all students, including our advanced learners. The Priority Index utilizes Priority Indicators that reflect diverse learner needs and factors impacting opportunity, human resource stability, student performance, and engagement, as well as the community impact of COVID-19.

Specifically, the academic Priority Indicators include student membership demographics (e.g., diverse learner needs and percent of students with disabilities, English Learners, and economically disadvantaged students), student mobility rates, student academic performance (two or more failing grades in middle and high school courses), early literacy achievement (elementary), chronic absenteeism, and COVID-19 rates by student zip code.

Additionally, separate indicators for social-emotional and mental wellness (e.g., counseling contacts for personal concerns, as well as survey results on student safety and well-being) were established and data analyzed to determine student and school needs for services and support.

The resources, support, and funding follow systemic models for both academic and social-emotional supports that align to the Priority Indicators. The following are three types of school supports.

  • Universal – resources, support, and funding to support ALL schools
  • Focused – additional assets, support, and funding for some schools where Priority Indicator data signifies the need for further resources
  • Prioritized – additional assets, support, funding for some schools where the Priority Indicator data signifies the need for more intensive services and resources

Overall, the Division’s recovery plan is aligned to the core values of equity, integrity, and academic success for all students. Student needs and factors impacting academic and opportunity gaps, student performance and engagement, social-emotional well-being, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on students within a school’s community are all factors the School Division is using to determine the distribution and implementation of additional resources, supports, and services to schools and students.

Beyond these identified investments toward addressing unfinished learning, ARPA funding also supported the hiring of summer school teachers, thus giving our students summer school opportunities to include Extended School Year (ESY) services for students with disabilities and focused instruction for our English Learner students. The Division will also utilize approximately $11.3 million of the ARPA funding for the virtual programming for our virtual-only students at all levels.

Section 4: Other Uses of Funds

Section 2001(e) of the ARP Act permits school divisions to use the ARP Act ESSER III funding not reserved to address unfinished learning to address the impacts of COVID-19 in a variety of ways. Prince William County Public Schools will use approximately 30 percent of its ARP Act ESSER III funds in accordance with Section 2001(e) of the ARP Act as described below.

A portion of PWCS comprehensive plan will use 13 percent of the ARP Act ESSER III funds to address students’ social, emotional, and mental health, 1 percent to support hiring of qualified staff to support learning loss/unfinished learning, and 1 percent to monitor expenditures of this funding. The Division will also utilize approximately 15 percent of the ARPA funding for the virtual programming for our virtual-only students at all levels and technology refresh of student devices.

Section 5: Addressing Students’ Academic, Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs

To ensure that the academic, social, emotional, and mental health interventions respond directly to the needs of all students Prince William County Public Schools the Division developed and implemented a tiered approach for the distribution of academic and social emotional/mental health resources to schools. Given that all students and schools have experienced impacts from the pandemic all schools will receive some “universal” academic and social emotional/mental health supports.

In support of academic needs, the Division analyzed multiple academic data sources to include student academic grades from the 2020-21 school year, Standards of Learning results from spring 2021, Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening assessment results, ACCESS test results, and Lexia Core5 and PowerUp data from the 2020-21 school year. This data served to provide the Division with academic areas of need for the coming year which will be specifically supported through the identified materials, human resources, and professional learning opportunities included in our ARP funding application requests. The identified academic areas of need include the following.

  • Mathematics
  • Early Literacy
  • English language arts
  • Science
  • Academic, social, and communication development for students with disabilities
  • Academic and social language development for English Learners

With these academic areas of need in mind and to further support Prince William County Public Schools ensuring that the interventions directly respond to the needs of students the Division developed an academic Priority Index for the equitable distribution of ARP funds and resources. The Priority Index uses an identified set of Priority Indicators focused on selected academic results that best represented the vast majority of students at the elementary and secondary levels as well as a focus on those students who have been disparately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the academic Priority Indicators include student membership demographics (e.g., diverse learner needs and percent of students with disabilities, English Learners, and economically disadvantaged students), student mobility rates, student academic performance (two or more failing grades in middle and high school courses), early literacy achievement (elementary), chronic absenteeism, and COVID-19 rates by student zip code. Using these indicators and a weighted formula, the index helped to prioritize schools across the Division for additional focused and prioritized resources, supports, and services. The following are three types of school supports.

  • Universal – receive resources, support, and funding to support ALL schools
  • Focused – includes all universal supports plus additional assets, support, and funding for some schools where Priority Indicator data signifies the need for further resources
  • Prioritized – includes all universal and focused supports plus additional assets, support, funding for some schools where the Priority Indicator data signifies the need for more intensive services and resources

Fidelity of implementation and impact on student learning will be monitored by Division instructional offices, the associate superintendents who oversee instruction and schools, and school principals through the monitoring of planning and the use of data by professional learning communities, Instructional Rounds at schools, observed teacher response to coaching and feedback, as well as in progress student academic results in the identified academic areas.

As stated previously, separate indicators for social-emotional and mental wellness (e.g., counseling contacts for personal concerns, as well as survey results on student safety and well-being) were established and data analyzed to determine student and school needs for services and support.

Nearly all students have experienced some challenges to their mental health and well-being during the pandemic and many have lost access to school-based services and support. America’s Promise Alliance conducted a survey during the pandemic finding that more than one in four young people reported lost sleep because of unhappiness, depression, and loss of confidence in self. Survey participants stated feeling less connected to their teachers and other school staff during online learning. This information supports the CDC findings in the increase in the proportion of emergency department visits for mental health reasons. Compared with 2019, this data presents how the proportion of mental health-related visits for children aged 5-11 and 12-17 years increased approximately 24% and 31%, respectively. Finally, observations from state and national trend data for out-of-school time may understate the impact of COVID-19 on student learning, especially when compared with summer break, due to the economic and social impacts of the virus. As PWCS considers the information available in relationship to the growing consensus that school closures in spring 2020 likely had negative effects on student learning (Kuhfeld et. Al, 2020).

PWCS is committed to ensuring the emotional well-being of our students and staff to ensure our communities thrive. Social-emotional support can be particularly important for students with disabilities as it emphasizes relationships and social interactions, helping students to develop a sense of safety and belonging. Virtual learning has taken a heavy toll on students with disabilities and their families, so it is important to continue building relationships and support individual student needs upon the continued return to in-person instruction. Schools will receive support to assess student and staff emotional needs and lay the foundation for focused engagement and healing. As such, PWCS will focus on creating supportive school environments and strong teacher-student relationships that will remove barriers to learning and speed recovery from learning loss.

Social and Emotional Learning Goal:

Key Strategies for Social and Emotional Support Services

By the end of the 2021-22 school year, provide 100% of staff members and students with the social and emotional support needed to ensure student availability for learning.

  1. Provide Division-wide social and emotional needs assessment.
  2. Conduct a parent/guardian social and emotional survey to gather baseline data.
  3. Provide lesson plan templates for teachers at each grade level to set the stage for social and emotional support.
  4. Provide access to social and emotional support library resources available to all teachers, students, and parents.
  5. Deliver training for teachers in self-care and healing-centered practices to support students.
  6. Provide targeted support for Social Emotional Learning and Healing in those schools identified at Focus or Priority.

Section 6: Consultation with Stakeholders and Opportunity for Public Comment

In developing the ARP ESSER Plan, Prince William County Public Schools conducted consultation in the following ways:

  • With stakeholders, including: students, families, school and district administrators (including special education administrators), teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff, and their unions — To gain community input, PWCS conducted two public meetings on June 15 and June 22, 2021. Additionally, the Division conducted a stakeholder survey in which over 9,200 people responded;
  • With Tribes (if applicable); civil rights organizations (including disability rights organizations); and stakeholders representing the interests of children with disabilities, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, migratory students, children who are incarcerated, and other underserved students — The public meetings and stakeholder survey provided multiple opportunities for organizations and stakeholders representing the interests of these identified student groups to provide input; and
  • By providing the public the opportunity to provide input and taking such input into account:

    The PWCS comprehensive plan strongly aligns the community/stakeholder input on funding use priorities. The following themes were identified from the over 9,200 survey responses and are clearly reflected in the plan’s key commitments and funding priorities.

    • A focus on student social-emotional needs and mental health needs of students;    
    • Support for at-risk student populations; and
    • Providing targeted, evidence-based interventions and extended learning programs (before school, after school, and Saturday school etc.).

    Best practices, derived from current educational research, have been contextualized for use in our community in keeping with these priorities to meet the individual needs of students by equitably distributing additional federal resources to support acceleration in student learning and social-emotional wellness as we recover, reconnect, and re-engage with in-person learning.

Section 7: Making the Plan Available to the Public

Prince William County Public Schools has taken the following steps to make this plan available to the public:

  • The plan is posted at https://www.pwcs.edu/parents/pwcs_unfinished_learning_plan;
  • The plan is available in multiple languages on the PWCS webpage. It is available in the nine  major languages of Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Urdu, Farsi, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Dari, Pashto plus additional languages available for selection on our webpage;
  • The plan may be orally translated for parents. Contact the Director of English Learner Programs and Services, Dr. Lynmara Colon at ColonLX@pwcs.edu to request translation; and
  • Upon request, a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA may be provided with the plan in an alternative format accessible by contacting the Director for Communications and Technology Services, Diana Gulotta at GulottDC@pwcs.edu.