Hartford, Conn.–As Connecticut and school districts prepare to receive substantial federal relief, the nonprofit ConnCAN recently surveyed families about how to prioritize the funds.

Parents, students, and educators representing 104 districts completed the online survey between February 12 and March 16. Participants were asked to rate twelve areas of potential investment with social and emotional support for students topping the list; 75% said those types of supports are “extremely important.” Full survey results are available here.


ConnCAN Executive Subira Gordon said:  “This Friday, March 26, 2021, is International #SELday (Social Emotional Learning Day). This year’s theme is Building Bonds, Reimagining Community. Now is a time for Connecticut to work together and support students as they recover.”

ConnCAN Parent Fellow Tycharmel Denny of New Haven said: “Nearly 400 families who lived through a year of distance learning offered insights into its effect on students, most of which have been adverse. Many of those same respondents gave us workable solutions to share with policymakers. Federal resources can and should be deployed to address student learning loss and perhaps support their families to do the same. As one respondent from New Haven put it, ‘Save (help) the parents in order to save (help) the children.’”

ConnCAN Parent Fellow Veronica Rosario from East Hartford said: “Proper social and emotional support require trained staff and a safe place for students. Districts will be able to hire social workers, counselors and make the types of investments they may not have been able to prior to the pandemic.”

ConnCAN Parent Fellow LaToya Ireland from Waterbury said: “The state is poised to rebuild a more equitable education system post-Covid and federal funds must supplement, not supplant local budgets. At the district level, towns should invest every dollar as wisely as possible. Windfalls like these do not happen often.”

Three rounds of Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) funding and the American Rescue Plan will send millions of dollars to state departments of education and districts across the country. Federal funds must be used to directly address learning loss and recovery from the devastating effects of COVID-19.

Beyond existing resource inequities among Connecticut towns, Covid exposed major gaps in district preparedness for distance learning.

Readying school facilities to reopen and laptops and internet connection for home use ranked second and third respectively as the most important. Summer school ranked last with just over half of respondents saying it is somewhat or extremely important. 40.4% said summer school was not important at all.

The survey showed fiscal accountability as another common concern with many suggesting budget and funding information be made publicly available and spent directly on students.

A full report of ConnCAN’s federal education relief fund survey, as well as messages for Connecticut policymakers, can be found here:


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