COVID Brief: State Lawmakers Spend Federal Cash on Mental Health

A weekly roundup of headlines about how the pandemic is shaping schools and education policy, vetted by AEI Visiting Fellow John Bailey

Help fund stories like this. Donate now!

This is our biweekly briefing on the pandemic, vetted by John Bailey. See the full archive.

This Week’s Top Story

Awash in Federal Money, State Lawmakers Tackle Worsening Youth Mental Health

First graders at Ellen Ochoa Learning Center in Cudahy, Calif., participate in a pep rally on the playground. States are using billions in federal relief money to improve mental health services in schools. (Getty Images)
  • Via Stateline
  • New York City: “Mayor Eric Adams announced a broad mental health agenda that includes a youth suicide prevention program.”
  • North Carolina: “Gov. Roy Cooper declared that the state would spend $7.7 million to provide suicide prevention training for university and community college personnel, create a mental health hotline for students and develop resiliency training for faculty, staff and students.”
  • New Jersey: “Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled a $14 million mental health grant program that targets K-12 schools with the greatest need.”
  • Rhode Island: “Gov. Daniel McKee introduced a $7.2 million program to train K-12 school employees to detect mental illness and suicide risk, respond to it and connect students and families to community social services.”
  • “Last year, Illinois, Iowa and Maryland launched programs to provide mental health training for school personnel.”
  • “And Arizona, California and South Carolina raised Medicaid reimbursement rates to incentivize behavioral health providers to provide services in schools.”
  • Related: California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposes bond measure, sweeping mental health reform.

The Big Three

COVID’s Education Crisis: A Lost Generation?

  • Via CBS Sunday Morning
  • “It may look like the pandemic is over; stadiums are open again, crowds are everywhere, and hardly a mask in sight. But COVID hurt a lot of things you can’t easily see, especially in schools. 
  • Harlem Children’s Zone founder Geoffrey Canada: “I feel like I just need to stand on a mountaintop and just yell, ‘Take this seriously! Everything is at stake right now!’ “
  • ” ‘There’s a whole cohort of young people who are not going to get the kind of education that’s going to allow them to get the best jobs,’ Canada said. ‘It’s going to cost lots of kids tens of thousands of dollars over their earnings, or some, hundreds of thousands of dollars.’ “
  • Video of the segment

COVID Exploited Political Divisions Along With Racial and Health Disparities

  • CIDRAP on a new study in The Lancet. More via Axios.
  • “For deaths, they found a fourfold difference in rates across states, with fatalities lowest in Hawaii and New Hampshire and highest in Arizona and Washington, D.C.”
  • “Overall, they found that states with higher poverty, lower levels of education, less access to quality health care and less trust in others had disproportionately higher rates of COVID infections and deaths.”

Education Department Approves Extensions for ESSER Spending

Federal Updates

White House Disbanding Its COVID-19 Team in May: Via The Washington Post.

Food and Drug Administration Authorizes Pfizer Bivalent COVID Booster for Kids 6 Months Through Age 4: In amending the emergency use authorization, the FDA said the booster can be given at least two months after children have completed the three-dose series of the single-strain vaccine.

City & State News

New Budget Numbers: Financial Year 204 preliminary budgets from New York, Vermont and New Hampshire, plus Seattle, from Burbio.

Connecticut: “Gov. Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell Tucker today announced that the Connecticut State Department of Education is preparing to launch the Connecticut High-Dosage Tutoring Program — a new statewide program for students in grades 6 to 9 that will provide intensive tutoring in mathematics to accelerate learning and address learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Illinois: Chicago Public Schools leaders warned of looming budget deficits Wednesday but still promised to increase funds for pandemic recovery, migrant students and other needs in the coming school year’s budget.

Michigan: How transportation problems fuel absenteeism in Detroit

New Mexico

COVID-19 Research

Do We Need a Spring COVID-19 Booster?

  • Via Katelyn Jetelina and Jeremy Faust
  • “If you’re immunocompromised and/or an older adult with a comorbidity (and it’s been six months since an infection or last booster), a spring booster may be a good idea to stay ahead of the virus.”
  • “Will it be official U.S. policy? We don’t know. There are rumors of FDA conversations happening behind closed doors. Hopefully, we will have an answer soon. But, as you can tell, it’s not a straightforward call.”

COVID Origins 


Most Americans Doubt Their Children Will Be Better Off

Schools Bought Tech to Accelerate Learning. Is It Working?

  • Via EdWeek
  • “With federal COVID-relief funding, schools purchased tech tools to help students make up for the unfinished learning that happened during the most critical period of the pandemic. 
  • “While there are digital tools that are pushing the envelope on learning acceleration, there are other ed tech tools that claim to accelerate learning but aren’t actually aligned with the principles of learning acceleration, said Bailey Cato Czupryk, the senior vice president of learning, impact and design for TNTP, a nonprofit that consults with districts on teacher training, instructional strategy and other education issues.”
  • “Zearn … is an example many experts pointed to. A study analyzing the impact of the Nebraska education department’s statewide partnership with Zearn found that elementary and middle school students who consistently used Zearn had 2.5 times the growth in their state assessment scores than students who did not use Zearn.”

Bill Gates on AI

… And on a Lighter Note

The Look-a-Like Cam: Is even better with the reactions from the control room — wait for the end.

Happy National Puppy Day: This puppy doesn’t want to get out of the pool.

For even more COVID policy and education news, subscribe to John Bailey’s daily briefing via Substack.

Disclosure: John Bailey is an adviser to the Walton Family Foundation, which provides financial support to The 74.

Help fund stories like this. Donate now!

Republish This Article

We want our stories to be shared as widely as possible — for free.

Please view The 74's republishing terms.

On The 74 Today