TUCSON (KVOA) - Arizona schools are expected to receive more than $2.6 billion from the American Rescue Plan, a boon for schools that have struggled through the pandemic.
U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva toured Hollinger K-8 Wednesday to see how students and staff had adjusted to the new paradigm.
"As we recover, how our schools recover, how communities who send kids to those schools, how the parents and households are all going to be part of the recovery and central to the recovery is public schools," Grijalva said.
The congressman said he wanted to see how the school has used existing COVID-19 relief funds. Hollinger is employing all of the standard safety measures, plexiglass separators at desks, hand sanitizer and air filters in the classroom. Half of Hollinger's students are studying remotely.
This has created a learning loss in some students. However, educators say students are also picking up skills that will last a lifetime.
"Students have developed a whole new kind of skill set related to just 21st-century skills," said Hollinger Principal Kamren Taravati. "Now we see 6 and 7-year-olds that know how to connect, that know how to navigate programs like near Nearpod, Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom."
Taravati also says COVID-19 mitigation efforts seem to be working. There has not been a case at the school since Gov. Doug Ducey ordered schools to offer in-person learning last month.
Hollinger does not know how much money it will receive under the new American Recovery Plan. However, Taravati does have a wish list that includes more teachers, one device per student and a full-time social worker.
"We know that when some students come back to school, they are going to have some behavioral health needs that are just very real, " Taravati said.
Grijalva is adamant recovery must focus on schools.
"It's an investment," he said. "If we don't make this investment and don't continue this investment; if we begin to short circuit and cut public education then the consequences are not good. We don't have the recovery that we need."