ED Review (05/27/22)

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May 27, 2022


Biden on Uvalde 

President Biden and Secretary Cardona addressed the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. 

I had hoped, when I became President, I would not have to do this again,” the President said in remarks.  “Another massacre.  Uvalde, Texas.  An elementary school.  Beautiful, innocent second-, third-, fourth-graders….  To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away….  And it’s a feeling shared by the siblings, and the grandparents, and their family members, and the community that’s left behind.  So, tonight, I ask the nation to pray for them, to give [them] the strength in the darkness they feel right now. 

“It’s been 3,448 days -- 10 years -- since I stood up at a grade school in Connecticut, where another gunman massacred 26 people, including 20 first-graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Since then, there have been over 900 incidents of gunfire reported on school grounds.  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Santa Fe High School in Texas.  Oxford High School in Michigan….  And the list grows when it includes mass shootings at places like movie theaters, houses of worship, and, as we saw just 10 days ago, at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.  I am sick and tired of it.  We have to act.  Don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage.” 

The President also issued a proclamation honoring the victims. 

“My heart is aching for all the families in Uvalde, Texas, who are living through every parent’s greatest fear and worst nightmare: a shooting in their children’s school,” the Secretary said in a statement.  “As a parent, I am filled with grief for the families and students; concern that as our schools move past pandemic closures, the fear of shootings has become all too real once again; and anger at the lack of will by many to pass legislation that can protect our children.  I pray our nation has not grown numb to the horrors that unfolded today at Robb Elementary School, when the lives of 18 precious children and a devoted educator were cut short.  How many more lives must be lost before we realize that we, the people, and those we elect, have the power and the opportunity to ensure this never happens again?  (Update: Nineteen children and two educators have been confirmed killed.) 

“My team at the Department of Education is offering every available federal resource -- including through our Project SERV [School Emergency Response to Violence] program and on-the-ground support -- to help the families, educators, staff, and the greater…community recover from this trauma and loss.” 

And yesterday, the Secretary opened his testimony before the House Education and Labor Committee with poignant remarks about needing to do better for students and families and finding a path forward. 


Mental Health Awareness Month 

On May 19, the Department published new guidance to assist institutions of higher education in providing mental health supports for students, faculty, and staff.  This guidance includes specific examples of how institutions can use the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to invest in evidence-based mental health supports for students and connect the campus community to providers for care.  It also highlights institutions already using HEERF for these efforts (press release). 

Later that day, the Secretary emphasized the guidance and discussed how federal funding, including support from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), can play a critical role in addressing mental health during a virtual roundtable with students at the University of California, Riverside, which is using federal pandemic relief aid to provide immediate crisis support and teletherapy to students and expanded wellness resources for faculty and staff. 

Then, on May 22, the Department hosted a first-of-its-kind virtual summit, “From Recovery to Thriving: Supporting Mental Health and Students with Disabilities,” to spotlight steps that K-12 schools, postsecondary institutions, and communities can take to support students with disabilities and those with mental health needs.  The summit underscored the essential partnership between education and families to ensure effective implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  As part of the convening, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) also released new resources to promote mental health and the social and emotional well-being of children (press release). 

For example, OCR, in coordination with the Department’s Military Affairs Team, issued FAQs tackling questions that student veterans with disabilities may have about their civil rights as college students.  In partnership with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network, OCR also released a 20-part video series on web site accessibility.  Additionally, OCR will launch 100 compliance reviews examining digital accessibility in schools and school districts, postsecondary institutions, State Education Agencies (SEAs), libraries, and vocational rehabilitation services. 

In related news:


On May 24, the White House’s ARP Implementation Team and Domestic Policy Council released their interim ARP Equity Report.  The report, together with ongoing economic statistics, provides further evidence that the ARP spurred “the most equitable recovery in memory.”  The report also details lessons learned and areas for continued work and collaboration with external partners to build on progress to date, including through the release of the ARP Equity Learning Agenda (fact sheet). 


Harris at Meridian 

Last week, at Meridian High School in Falls Church, Virginia, Vice President Harris announced the availability of $500 million in funding from the Clean School Bus Program established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  She was accompanied by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, whose agency is administering the new program.  While at the school, Harris toured electric school buses and received a briefing from manufacturers, educators, and students. 

Also last week, Secretary Cardona traveled to Massachusetts to speak with students and school leaders about how ARP funds are being used to support recovery efforts.  At Milford High School with U.S. Representative Jake Auchincloss, he learned about the biomedical science pathway program and met with students about the importance of mental health supports in school.  At Lowell High School with U.S. Representative Lori Trahan, he learned about expanded opportunities for students to take postsecondary education and career courses and met with students about additional school supports that have helped students recover while increasing achievement (photos). 

This week, Deputy Secretary Marten traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts (photos). 

Also, Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal and Federal Student Aid (FSA) Chief Operating Officer Rich Cordray joined New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for a roundtable discussion on Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) with students, faculty, and staff at the College of New Jersey (photos and video).  Last fall, the Department announced a limited PSLF wavier opportunity, which temporarily waives certain program rules to better deliver on the PSLF promise to public employees with federal student loans.  (To date, FSA has approved more than $7.3 billion in discharges for nearly 130,000 borrowers through the waiver -- with an average discharge of over $57,000 per borrower.)  To take advantage of the waiver, borrowers must apply for PSLF by October 31. 

Moreover, the Under Secretary visited Guttman Community College in New York City for a briefing on the institution’s high-impact academic model and a meeting with students about critical mental health services (photos). 


Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded eligibility and strengthened recommendations for COVID-19 booster shots.  The CDC now recommends children ages 5 through 11 receive a booster shot five months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series.  The CDC also urges those 12 and older who are immunocompromised and those 50 and older receive a second booster four months after the first. 

As COVID-19 cases increase across the country, booster doses will safely help restore and enhance protection against severe disease. 

Furthermore, the Biden Administration announced that U.S. households may order eight more free at-home tests via COVIDTests.gov -- bringing the total number of free tests available to each household since the start of the program to 16. 


  • On May 18, Vice President Harris delivered the commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, discussing the state of the world and how cadets’ role and influence in the Coast Guard will help protect the security of the U.S. and others (see also video).
  • In a Twitter thread, White House Senior Advisor to the President Gene Sperling asserts that there is “clear evidence school districts dramatically sped up emergency spending due to [ARP] to safely open schools & have serious plans in place to address learning loss & student mental health.”
  • In a responsive letter, the Department outlines its authority to approve liquidation extension requests for properly obligated funds upon review of written requests made by SEAs.
  • Secretary Cardona celebrates by video the 68th year of the Brown v. Board of Education
  • The latest “Lessons from the Field” webinars focused on promoting staff wellness in the wake of COVID-19 and meeting the mental health needs of survivors of human trafficking.
  • The Department is currently accepting nominations of K-12 teachers for the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award.
  • With the pandemic still impacting higher education, the Department will continue its strict focus on identity and fraud and waive the remaining Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) verification requirements for the remainder of the 2022-23 award year.
  • Also, in a Homeroom blog, FSA COO Cordray outlines the next generation of federal student loan servicing.
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee advanced the nominations of Nasser Paydar to serve as the agency’s Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education and LaWanda Toney to serve as the agency’s Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach.
  • The Department is seeking individuals to participate in the peer review process for competitive grant funding under a number of elementary and secondary, postsecondary, and special education programs. 


“This is a pretty complex issue….  We are about a year and a few months in.  We are not done….  I can assure you the work that we’ve done since day one under this Administration has put the borrowers first, has forgiven loans where possible, but has also made a process a lot easier for our borrowers to manage.” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (5/21/22), from an interview about student loan debt relief on MSNBC’s “Symone” 


This Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, at 3 p.m. local time, Americans are asked to stop what they are doing and spend one minute in a Moment of Remembrance.  The mid-afternoon time was chosen because it is when many Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the holiday. 

Please register to join the Department and the Coalition for Community Schools on June 3, from 11 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern Time, for the second webinar in the ongoing Community Schools Learning Series.  During this webinar, participants will learn about key federal, state, and local funding sources that can be leveraged for community schools and how to approach a process of blending and braiding funding to help sustain it.  Presenters will also share about the federal Full-Service Community Schools grant, which is opening an application in a few weeks. 

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