CARES Act and ESSER funding
The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. It includes the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to help K-12 educational entities prevent, prepare for, and respond to impacts of COVID-19.
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The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) includes a third round of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER III), as well as money for internet connectivity for schools and libraries, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and extension of the Pandemic EBT food program for students.
ESSER Fund: General Information
Although ESSER funds are distributed to districts using a proportional distribution to the FY 2019-2020 Title I, Part A allocations, they are not Title I, Part A funds and are therefore not subject to the Title I, Part A requirements. ESSER funds may be used to support any school in a district regardless of its Title I status. Further, although ESSER funds are not subject to the Title I, Part A supplanting prohibitions, meaning ESSER funds may take the place of State of Local funds for allowable activities, they are subject to equitable services and maintenance of effort requirements.
ESSER is its own program intended to help with the COVID-19 response. As such, a district must submit a separate grant application to the New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE) in order to receive ESSER funds. Example of activities are listed below. Once a district has had its ESSER grant application approved by the NHDOE, funding can be accessed through the grants management system and used for FY20 allowable costs dating back to March 13, 2020, the date the President declared the national emergency due to COVID-19, and funding will remain available for allowable costs through September 30, 2021.
Similar to other Federal grants held by a district, the district’s management and expenditure of the ESSER funds will be subject to both fiscal and programmatic compliance monitoring by the NHDOE. In addition, ESSER funds are subject to audit requirements under the Single Audit Act and to review by the Government Accountability Office. The United States Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General may audit program implementation, as may any other federal agency, commission, or department in the lawful exercise of its jurisdiction and authority.
ESSER Funds Allowable Activities:
The purpose of the ESSER fund is to provide districts with emergency relief funds to address the impact COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools that are providing educational services and developing plans for the return to normal operations. The ESSER grant provides districts considerable flexibility in determining how best to use ESSER funds. Districts are encouraged to target ESSER funding on activities that will support remote learning for all students, especially disadvantaged or at-risk students and their teachers. Funds may be used for a wide variety of purposes, including but not limited to:
- Educational technology (internet connectivity, hardware, devices, software, tech support services, etc.)
- Supplies and services that enable remote learning (printing, telephonic support, translation services, etc.)
- Mental health services and supports
- Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children, students with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including outreach and service delivery
- Diagnostic intake assessments to gauge students’ knowledge and skills (i.e. early literacy screening, etc.)
- Assessing learning gaps to inform teaching, and addressing those gaps
- Planning and implementing summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs
- Providing principals and other school leaders with resources to address individual school needs
- Training and professional development for district staff on any topic from effective remote learning strategies to sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious disease when in-person school resumes
- Supplies and services to sanitize district facilities; personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including how to provide meals, technology for online learning, guidance for carrying out IDEA requirements, and providing educational services consistent with applicable requirements
- Procedures and coordination systems to improve district preparedness and response efforts to COVID-19
- Other activities necessary to maintain district operations and services and to continue to employ existing district staff.
- Any activity allowable under ESSA, IDEA, Perkins, McKinney-Vento, and AEFLA Examples of allowable activities from each are below (please note that this is not a comprehensive list):
- Title I, Part A - Helping Disadvantaged Students; Laptops, software, hotspots, supplies for Title I students, salaries for Title I teachers and paraprofessionals
- McKinneyVento - Protections for Homeless Children; Planning for and coordinating delivery of food, services, technology and materials, mental health services to homeless students
- Title II, Part A - Professional Learning; Teacher laptops, online supports and training, software, stipends for planning
- Title IV, Part A - Student Support and Enrichment; Student laptops, software, hotspots, musical instruments, STEM supplies, wellness programming
- Title IV, Part B - After-school programs; Salaries for supplemental (“after-school”) teachers, programming, student wellness
- IDEA - Special Education; Cost of compensatory education for districts to include but not limited to: out of district placements, out of state placements, related services (OT, PT, Speech, Behavioral Support, Counseling, etc.),ESY, transition services; Supplies to include but not limited to: laptops for teachers and students, hotspots, accessible materials, equipment for accessibility; Salaries for teachers, paraprofessionals and related service providers
- Title 1 C - Migrant Education; Supplies for migrant students, software, tutoring
- Title III - English Learners; Software for districts or teachers, professional development for teachers and administrators, supplemental supplies for students
- Perkins V- Supporting Career and Technical Education; Teacher laptops, student laptops, hotspots, supplies, curriculum development, interpreters, evaluation, for CTE students and schools
- WIOA Title II, AEFLA- Adult Education; Student laptops, hotspots, software, consumable workbooks, salaries for teachers to adapt curricula, online NRS approved assessments, professional development
Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund §18003. (a)
(d)Use of Funds. –A local educational agency that receives funds under this title may use the funds for any of the following:
(1) Any activity authorized by the ESEA of 1965, including the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support, and Assistance Act (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) ("IDEA"), the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.), the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (20 U.S.C. 2301 et seq.) ("the Perkins Act"), or subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.).
(2) Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to improve coordinated responses among such entities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
(3) Providing principals and others school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.
(4) Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population.
(5) Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies.
(6) Training and professional development for staff of the local educational agency on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
(7) Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of a local educational agency, including buildings operated by such agency.
(8) Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for online learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements.
(9) Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
(10) Providing mental health services and supports.
(11) Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
(12) Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency
CARES Act Documents
ESSER Fund Application
CARES ACT/ESSER Equitable Service Affirmation
Federal Grant Compliance Fact and Information Sheets
GEPA Requirements for ESSER Application