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By Rep. Mike Levin
My wife, Chrissy, and I are proud to send our two young children to Capistrano Unified schools. Like so many children, they have done remote learning throughout this pandemic.
And like so many parents, we know what it’s like trying to make sure they’re logged on to their classes at the right times, juggling both of our jobs with sometimes unusual schedules, working through technology issues, and more.
We’ve all been forced to play the role of teacher’s assistant. It can be exhausting.
We also know that during the past year, our kids haven’t received the same education and social experiences that they need and deserve. Their teachers have been fantastic, doing their best to adapt under extremely difficult conditions, but we know our kids have missed out interacting with their friends and accessing extracurricular activities that help their overall development.
This is the bottom line: Schools need to reopen quickly and safely. That’s why the American Rescue Plan, the major COVID-relief bill we passed in Congress last month, delivers federal funding that local schools will need to get kids back in the classroom.
The American Rescue Plan provides resources for K-12 schools to reduce class sizes, modify spaces to allow for social distancing, invest in better ventilation and personal protective equipment, hire additional custodians, improve transportation, and more.
These resources will expedite the transition back to in-person schooling and help ensure students, teachers and other faculty are safe.
The funding is going to make a huge difference for schools right here in our community. The State of California is receiving $15 billion from the American Rescue Plan to help reopen K-12 schools.
In our Congressional district, which covers South Orange County and North County San Diego, schools will receive a total of $125 million. Capistrano Unified is estimated to receive more than $39.94 million.
Schools receiving funds will be required to develop plans to return to in-person learning and make those plans publicly available. Schools must also use a portion of the funding to help make up for lost learning with strategies such as enhanced summer school.
In addition, funds can be used to strengthen mental health support services for students. The past year has taken a toll on the emotional well-being of kids, and this funding will help schools hire more counselors to address these challenges.
We know that our children have not received the education they deserve during this pandemic. While we have a long way to go to rectify the situation, I’m thrilled that our local schools will receive the federal funding they need to begin that process.
The American Rescue Plan is going to help get our kids back in the classroom quickly and safely, and that’s what is most important right now.
U.S. Representative Mike Levin represents the 49th Congressional District, which includes the South Orange County cities of Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. He was reelected for a second term in 2020 and resides in San Juan Capistrano with his wife and two children.