Mesquite ISD will use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to fund programs that will ensure student success.

Mesquite ISD will take a four-pronged approach to ensure learning recovery during the 2021-2022 school year.

On Monday, the Mesquite ISD board of trustees addressed how they will use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to ensure student success. They discussed topics including returning to in person learning safely, recovering from learning loss, addressing the mental health of students and staff and ensuring students are connected to the classroom as needed.

“At this point in time, Mesquite ISD is receiving an additional $82 million in funding,” ESSER Effectiveness Officer Orlando Riddick said.

Because of staffing, student performance and other concerns, Mesquite ISD chose to forgo their online virtual academy and opened their schools to full capacity. To ensure student and staff safety, the district used ESSER funds to put in place a number of protocols regarding visitation, social distancing, face coverings and sanitation among others.

By being in the classroom, Riddick said the district hopes to help students recover from learning loss experienced during the pandemic. To accelerate the recovery, the district will have learning recovery teachers (LRTs) and learning recovery specialists (LRSs).

LRTs will consist of existing teachers who choose to help meet student needs before and after school. They will be paid a stipend for working overtime. LRSs will consist of retired teachers who will be hired by the district and work up to 18 hours each week in more customized learning settings to assist struggling students. Funding for both groups will come from ESSER funding.

The district also plans to address social and emotional learning with the ESSER funds by initiating programs to meet the mental health needs of students and staff. The district plans to add three mental health counselors from Texas A&M in addition to 17 interventionists across the district. The curriculum will be administered by counselors at each campus in Mesquite.

To keep students connected to the classroom, the district also plans to supply each student with an iPad or a Chromebook to ensure a 1:1 ratio of students with access to technology.

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