EL MONTE – The El Monte Union High School District Board of Trustees has approved the use of additional one-time funds totaling $22 million, provided through the Elementary Secondary Emergency Relief Plan (ESSER III), to place a greater focus on the academic, emotional and mental health needs of students and staff.

El Monte Union received a series of ESSER Grants, which provided additional funding to support students who have been affected by COVID-19 and school closures. The District surveyed students, staff and parents on their thoughts regarding learning loss and highest priority needs.

Highlights of the survey results included:

• 53% of surveyors preferred extended tutoring programs including evening tutoring, holiday breaks, Saturdays, and summer breaks.
• 60% of surveyors preferred implementation of summer and afterschool Enrichment opportunities.
• 70% of surveyors saw a need for additional social-emotional support, such as individual and small group counseling, and social and emotional learning opportunities.
• 71% of surveyors preferred to focus on needed intervention programs for specifically identified populations such as at-promise students and English Learners.
• 79% of surveyors preferred increased technology capabilities including connectivity, hardware, and instructional software.
• 84% of surveyors preferred facility repairs/upgrades to improve the air quality and safety for each student, reducing the risk of virus transmission and exposure throughout campuses.
• 83% of surveyors saw a need to purchase cleaning supplies to sanitize and clean schools.

“The most important aspect is getting the input of our students, staff and public,” Board President Florencio F. Briones said. “We want to ensure we properly reflect a community that values social-emotional learning and mental wellness.”

El Monte Union has put together a plan of action for how to allocate these funds, which will support students by providing expanded learning opportunities with after-school tutoring and Saturday Academy, as well as a continued three-year summer school program.

Moving forward, the District will hire additional teachers, mental health providers, guidance counselors and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), who are to be present at each school to support the emotional and physical health needs of students and to aid in COVID-19 contact tracing.

To continue safe in-person learning, El Monte Union also plans to update Districtwide network hardware and software, expand on the hiring of more campus security and maintenance staff, install HVAC systems in all gymnasiums and other rooms as needed, while establishing additional therapy rooms and an increase in purchasing of sanitation and personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Although we faced many difficult trials and tribulations this past year, I am proud to say we have done a remarkable job in advocating for our students and personnel,” Superintendent Dr. Edward Zuniga said. “El Monte Union has stayed committed to setting a thorough plan into motion that will keep our environment safe and clean and also address ways we can help with learning loss caused by the pandemic.”