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American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Fund

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. Richmond City Public Schools has been awarded $122,811,024.85 in ESSER III funds. This plan describes how the awarded funds will be used. Questions about this plan should be directed to Sabrina Beamon, Grant Manager –


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. Richmond City Public Schools will use approximately $15,000,000 of its ARP Act ESSER III funds over three years to implement prevention and mitigation strategies as described below.

  • Hiring of nurses, contact tracing specialists, and other support personnel.
  • HVAC upgrades, maintenance and installation.
  • Purchase of educational software programs, instructional materials, and sanitation equipment.
  • Expansion of funding for substitute teachers.

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. Richmond City Public Schools will use approximately $68,000,000 [AM2] of its ARP Act ESSER III funds over three years to address unfinished learning via its Extended Day and Literacy Programs as described below.

  • $48 million will be spent to help fund remediation and enrichment opportunities via the Extended Day program. Funds will cover the stipends of reading interventionists, literacy teachers, instructional assistants, operations associates, data specialists, bilingual associates for family literacy support, communications specialists, a driver for the Lit Limo, and a “Literacy Czar.” Operation support for the Extended Day program also includes funding for community partners to provide enrichment activities, meals, and transportation.
  • $10 million will be used to train staff in effective teaching skills and to build capability to address diverse and exceptional student needs. Funds will assist 40 teachers to earn their Reading Specialist endorsement, 130 teachers to become Literacy Equity Leads, 150 teachers to earn LTRS certification, and 300 teachers to earn a CORE Literacy “badge.” Funds will also provide stipends to plan, execute, and attend a Literacy Institute, a data platform to facilitate teacher professional development, and instructional coaching partnerships.
  • $7 million will be spent to fund resources that will provide instructional and learning opportunities for students. These resources include early literacy instruction technology for preschool students, early reader screening tools, classroom libraries, K-5 instructional software, instructional materials for “reading labs” and creative literacy units, and funds for school reading rewards.

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. Richmond City Public Schools will use approximately $20,000,000 of its ARP Act ESSER III funds in accordance with Section 2001(e) of the ARP Act. Other Uses of ARP funding include:

  • Grant Manager and Office Associate
  • Family Liaisons
  • Communication Associate for Design Literacy/Academics
  • Communication Specialist AV/Digital/Video Production
  • Home Visiting Coordinator
  • Nursing services
  • Printing
  • Cell phones
  • Professional development for teachers
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Teacher certifications
  • Instructional Supplies

Addressing Students’ Academic, Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs

Richmond City Public Schools will ensure the interventions implemented will respond to the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of all students, and particularly those students disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including students from low-income families, students of color, English learners, children with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, and migratory students. Richmond City Public Schools will hire effective staff to provide services to those students most impacted by COVID-19. Through the use of researched based instructional tools, students will have access to instruction and services that will provide students with immediate support and practice opportunities.

Support for students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs will be addressed by:

  • Student Support Specialists
  • Psychologists
  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Mindfulness Trainers
  • Bilingual Associate for Literacy Outreach
  • Dropout Recovery Specialists
  • Early Childhood Associate Director
  • Social Emotional Learning Specialists
  • Social Emotional Learning Partnerships
  • Supplies for Home Visiting
  • Wrap around services for Exceptional Education
  • Supports for Exceptional Education
  • Software for Preschool
  • Stipends for ConGanas and ESL interpreters
  • English Learner Curriculum implementation Support
  • Instructional Supplies: English Learner Labs

Consultation with Stakeholders and Opportunity for Public Comment

In developing the ARP ESSER Plan, Richmond City Public Schools conducted consultation in the by providing the public the opportunity to provide input. The input received was considered as the plan was developed.

With stakeholders, including students, families, school and district administrators (including special education administrators), teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff, and their unions, RPS provided opportunities for the community to have input into the ARP spending plan. The public was given the opportunity to address the ARP planning process and expectations at the superintendent’s monthly Advisory Board Meetings, faith-based group round table discussions, and scheduled bi-monthly School Board meetings. In particular, public input was sought after the superintendent’s April 2 School Board presentation of RPS’ Opening with Love and Literacy Plans. The current drafts of these plans respond to the needs assessment conduct by the Division as well as the concerns raised by public comments. Advisory Council meetings are on-going and ARP planning and funding will continue to be monitored and evaluated with public input.

Periodic Review and Revision of Plan

During the period of the ARP ESSER award (until September 2023), RPS will periodically review and, as needed, revise its plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. The plan will be reviewed at least every six months, and RPS will seek and take into account public input during the review process. Plan revisions will address updated CDC guidance on safely reopening schools, if any are issued.

Plan revisions will be discussed during School Board meetings and Superintendent’s Advisory Council Meetings.

The School Board meets on the first and third Monday of each month, beginning at 6:00pm.

The Superintendent’s Advisory Council Meetings are as follows:

Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council – 1st Thursday of the month, 6:00pm

The Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council bring together Richmond Public Schools (RPS) high school students to help shape policy, ensure that student voice is a meaningful part of decision making and advocacy efforts, and serves as a bridge between the administration and the student body. For more information, please contact Chief Engagement Office, Dr. Shadae Harris.

Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council – 2nd Tuesday of the month, 6:00pm

Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council brings together 25 parents from diverse backgrounds with the administration to engage in true partners in the educational process. The Parent Advisory Council is divided into three focus groups: Go Far Together, Advocacy, and Parent Resources & Engagement. 

Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council – 3rd Tuesday of the month, 6:00pm

The Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council brings together 25 teachers to help shape policy and ensure rigorous and exciting teaching and learning for all our students. For more information contact Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Tracy Epp.

Superintendent’s Principal Advisory Council – 4th Tuesday of the month, 6:00pm

The Superintendent’s Principal Advisory Council allows principals the opportunity to contribute to shaping policy and ensuring RPS is positioned to meet the goals of Dream4RPs. 

Making the Plan Available to the Public

RPS has taken the following steps to make this plan available to the public:

  • The plan is posted on our website (
  • The plan is available in English and most languages predominantly spoken by the RPS community through our website translation feature;
  • The plan may be orally translated for parents. Contact to request interpretation services;
  • 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 Renesha Parks at

LEA Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services (Appendix C)

Maintaining Health and Safety

RPS has taken and will continue to take actions to ensure the health and safety of students, educators, and other school and division staff during and following the return to full in-person instruction. A description of actions already taken and additional actions planned is below.

RPS has adopted policies on each of the following safety recommendations established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • Universal and correct wearing of masks
    • Masks are not required for children if there is an opt out provided by parents/guardian.

    • Masks will be provided to anyone who does not have one.
  • Modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing
    • Classroom layouts will support 3 feet of distancing to the greatest extent possible.
    • Use of communal spaces (cafeteria, library, playground, etc.) are open to students and classes as appropriate.
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
    • Every classroom and common area will have a wall-mounted hand sanitizer station.
    • All bathrooms will have touchless paper towel and soap dispensers.
    • Students will wash hands or use hand sanitizer every 2 hours and prior to meals.
  • Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation
    • Standalone HEP filtration units will be placed in all classrooms and common areas.
    • Building HVAC systems will have upgraded air filters.
    • All buses will be equipped with air filtration systems and will keep windows open, weather permitting.
  • Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments
    • RPS will work in collaboration with the Richmond City Health District (RCHD) to perform contact tracing of all positive cases.
    • Classes/schools will be quarantined when advised by RCHD.
  • Diagnostic and screening testing
    • Families, students, and staff will be required to self-check at home before coming to school.
    • All visitors will be required to perform a symptom-check upon entry to buildings.
  • Efforts to provide vaccinations to school communities
    • All staff, families, and eligible students are strongly encouraged to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
    • RPS employees are to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or participate in weekly testing if unvaccinated.
  • Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies are provided.
  • Coordination with state and local health officials
    • RPS will work in collaboration with the Richmond City Health District (RCHD) to perform contact tracing and determine quarantine procedures.

Continuity of Services

RPS has taken and will continue to take actions to ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students’ academic needs and students’ and staff social, emotional, mental health, and other needs.

Continuity of academic services will be provided by offering families either in-person learning or online learning. Additionally, all students will be provided devices to ensure access to learning materials

Students’ social, emotional, and mental wellbeing remains a top priority. RPS is increasing partnerships with community-based mental health providers such as ChildSavers, Richmond Behavioral Health Authority, and Communities in Schools to provide personalized support to students. Additional resources include the continuation of RPS’ Family Engagement and Support programming, English Language Academic Support, and Center for Families in Transition.

For more information on these and other continuing services, please explore our website.

Proposals and Planning Documents

Read more about RPS' proposed use of ESSER funds here.

To see a draft proposal for Biden Stimulus Funding, click here.

To view RPS' post-Covid literacy plan, click here.